Glossary

Glossary of Legal Terms in California

Here are the definitions and explanations of some common terms you may see in California. For more general terms, see our Glossary of Legal Terms in the United States.

You can also see more about Legal Basics.

Charter city: A charter city in California is one that has more power to set its own rules, for example, to set the number of members on the city council. Cities that are not charter cities are “general law cities” which usually operate under standard rules determined by the state.

Contract city: A contract city in California is usually a smaller city that contracts out many of its municipal services to the County. For example, many cities do not have their own police force, but contract to use the county police instead.

Felony: See our Guide to Felonies vs Misdemeanors vs Infractions.

General Law City: A general law city in California is one that uses standard operating rules created by the state, as opposed to a charter city, which sets its own rules.

Infraction: See our Guide to Felonies vs Misdemeanors vs Infractions.

Misdemeanor: See our Guide to Felonies vs Misdemeanors vs Infractions.

Municipal Code (sometimes simply “MC”): This is the list of all laws passed by a city council or county government which are currently in effect. For example, the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) shows the current laws passed by the LA City Council.

Unincorporated area: An unincorporated area is a portion of a county that is not within an incorporated city. See more at Unincorporated areas in California.

Share the Legal Info With Your Friends: