Question: What is the difference between an infraction and misdemeanor in California?
Answer: A misdemeanor is worse than an infraction. The penalty for a misdemeanor can include jail time and probation (among other penalties) An infraction on the other hand does not include potential penalties of jail or probation. The penalties for most infractions are fine (and fees) only, although some can include other penalties such as driver license suspension or community service.
For example, running a red light is an infraction. The officer pulls you over, questions you a bit, then gives you a traffic citation with information about challenging it, or otherwise paying a fine (the amount owed is generally confirmed at a later date). On the other hand if you were pulled over and arrested for a DUI you will be charged as a misdemeanor or a more serious felony depending on the circumstances surrounding the factors that led up to your arrest and/or your criminal record (ie. multiple prior DUI or Wet Reckless Convictions). .