In California, certain offenses are considered a “wobbler.” This simply means that there are criminal code sections which make it possible for a prosecutor to charge and individual with an infraction or misdemeanor offense, or a misdemeanor or felony offense. A felony charge is the most serious, incurring the harshest penalties for those convicted. If your charge is under a wobbler, could it be good news? We’ll discuss it below.
How does a prosecutor determine whether to charge the client with a misdemeanor or felony?
In wobbler cases, the prosecutor will determine whether to charge you with a misdemeanor or felony based on your criminal history, the specific details in your case, and other factors. For example, if the crime is considered violent or severe, it’s likely the prosecutor will feel the crime deserves harsh punishment. However, if it is a first offense and mitigating facts exist that would eliminate or lessen your responsibility in the crime, he/she may decide to charge you with a misdemeanor.
Some of the offenses which qualify as wobblers in California include:
- Spousal battery (California Penal Code 273.5 PC)
- Burglary (California Penal Code 459 PC)
- Assault with a Deadly Weapon (California Penal Code 245(a)(1) PC)
- Sex crimes (sexual battery Penal Code 243.4 PC and lewd acts with a minor Penal Code 288 PC)
- Various fraud charges
Basically, if the damage or injury incurred is minimal and the individual accused has no prior criminal record, the prosecutor may choose to charge it as a misdemeanor offense.
Why is being charged under a wobbler code section favorable for the accused?
The penalties for every level of a criminal charge are different, and sentencing depends on the offense you are accused of committing. If the charge is a wobbler, it could mean that the penalties you face are much less harsh if charged as a misdemeanor. The penalties for a felony charge always include fines, probation, jail time, and other consequences. However, if charged with a misdemeanor the odds are high you will not serve jail time. While it is possible you will be sentenced to jail, the time you are required to serve will be minimal.
Any individual who is charged under a wobbler code section should contact a highly qualified Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. Having a capable, experienced attorney who will fight aggressively on your behalf could mean the difference between severe penalties and jail/prison time, and a lighter sentence or even dismissal of the charges.