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What Is a Wobbler Offense?

McCready Law Group Nov. 4, 2022

No matter what, being arrested for a crime can be a traumatic experience and one that should be handled by an expert, regardless of how serious your charges are. Fortunately, the arrest rates for both felonies and misdemeanors have decreased from 2020 to 2021, according to the California Department of Justice. However, the conviction rate for those arrested for a felony is 62%, which makes it incredibly important to work with a criminal defense attorney who will fight tirelessly for your rights.  

But, what about crimes that can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor? These “wobbler offenses'' are a crucial subject to understand because how your crime is classified can have huge impacts on your future. For more information about this, call me at McCready Law Group today. I proudly serve clients across Cypress Hill, Lakewood, and Long Beach, California. 

Wobbler Offenses in California  

A wobbler offense is one that can be tried as a felony or a misdemeanor. The types of crimes that fit in this category will vary from state to state and can be decided on in a few ways. However, there still are charges that will be considered “straight felonies” or “straight misdemeanors” that cannot be changed, and these are usually reserved for the most serious or the mildest crimes, respectively. It’s the crimes that live somewhere in the middle that are treated as wobblers, and because so much rides on what category they end up in, it’s essential you retain an experienced attorney who will work on your behalf for the best possible outcomes. 

Common Wobbler Crimes  

There are hundreds of crimes on the books in California that can be wobblers, including sex crimes, fraud crimes, and domestic abuse crimes. Other wobblers that can either be tried as a felony or misdemeanor are sexual battery, burglary, forgery, stalking, or grand theft. There are also some crimes that can wobble between a misdemeanor and a lesser infraction, such as criminal trespassing, disturbing the peace, or driving without a license. These are often referred to as “wobblette” crimes. 

Who Decides Whether It’s a Felony or Misdemeanor? 

Understanding who decides whether a crime is a misdemeanor or felony is key to knowing how best to approach your case. In most instances, the prosecution will decide what charge they’d like to bring against you, but ultimately, it’s up to the judge’s final discretion. And, the judge's decision can swing either way, deciding a misdemeanor should in fact be a felony or lowering the initial felony charge to a misdemeanor. 

What Factors May Be Taken Into Consideration? 

Among the many factors considered in a wobbler offense are the age of the defendant, the severity of the crime, whether the defendant has any prior convictions, the level of cooperation the defendant has shown with the courts and law enforcement, and the likelihood the defendant will recommit a crime in the future.  

One of the most significant things a judge or lawyer will look at when deciding how to classify a wobbler offense is whether it was an “aggravated” crime. This means that there’s an additional factor in play that makes the crime more serious, such as the use of a deadly weapon, if the victim was a minor or in a protected class, if drugs or alcohol were involved, or if someone lost their life during the incident.  

Trusted and Experienced Guidance  

If you’re in the Long Beach, California, area and would like to speak with an attorney about your recent arrest, make an appointment to speak with me at McCready Law Group. Regardless of what side your wobbler offense falls on, you’ll need an experienced and determined lawyer representing your interests. 

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