To the author’s knowledge, there has never been a prosecution for “Treason” in California. However, the crime of treason is punishable under Penal Code Section 37.

Pursuant to Penal Code Section 37(a), a person who owes allegiance to the State is guilty of “treason against the state” if they:

  • Wage war against it;
  • Assist its enemies;
  • Give enemies of the government aid and comfort


Treason is punishable by death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.1

Special Rules

The prosecution must utilize the testimony of at least two demonstrate that the defendant did something to further his criminal objective. The act in furtherance of the criminal objective is referred to as an “overt act.” A conviction may also be based, however, on a confession in open court.2


California’s law punishing treason appears to be similar to the federal crime set forth in the United States Constitution.3 However, an electronic database search reveals no published appellate cases concerning the crime of treason brought in state court.

1Penal Code § 37(a).

2Penal Code § 37(b).

3U.S. Const. Art. III, §3, cl. 1. (See Witkin, California Criminal Law, 4th Ed., §122).


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