What are Wobbler Crimes
A wobbler is the name given to certain types of crimes which can either be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. For example, the illegal possession of a controlled substance in violation of penal code section 11377 is an example of a wobbler. A crime which is charged as a misdemeanor carries a max county jail time of 1 year. In contrast, the minimum confinement time for a felony is 16 months if probation is not granted. Further, the confinement may be required to be served in State Prison.
Further differences between Felony and misdemeanor convictions include the length and terms of probation, the possibility for expungement (Click here for a detained description of expungements), and firearm restrictions. A felony conviction seriously hurts your career, job applications, and stains your record.
Prior to trial, the power to charge an offense as a misdemeanor versus a felony lies within the District Attorney or the Judge. Penal Code Section 17b. The District Attorney has discretion on whether they want to charge the crime or proceed against the crime as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Likewise, the Judge also as has discretion to amend a felony violation to a misdemeanor.
Not all crimes are wobblers, meaning they have no direct misdemeanor counterpart. However, the following crimes are just some common crimes that are also wobblers.
- Burglary Charges. PC 459
- Assault Charges. PC 245
- Domestic Violence Charges. PC 273.5
- Drug Possession Charges. PC 11377
- Theft Crimes. PC 496
- Animal Cruelty Crimes. PC 597
Factors used by the Judge or the District attorney in determining whether to a crime should be a felony or a misdemeanor include:
- The seriousness of the offense
- The circumstances surrounding the offense
- The damage the offense caused
- The defendant's prior criminal history
If you or someone you care about has been charged with a crime, and you are wondering if that crime is considered a wobbler, contact the law offices of Christopher Martens. Our Attorneys aggressively fight for our clients rights all over Central California including Hanford, Visalia, Bakersfield and Fresno. Call or email us for a free consultation.