What is a Wobbler Offense in CA?

While most crimes in California are either misdemeanors or felonies, there are several offenses that are known as “wobblers," which are crimes that are charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The decision is generally made (1) when the prosecution charges the crime, (2) at the felony preliminary hearing, (3) during sentencing, or (4) after the defendant completes felony probation, if he/she was not sentenced to prison. 

Ultimately, the prosecutor has the power to determine if a defendant should be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Common factors the prosecution will consider include the severity of the offense, the defendant’s past criminal history, the age of the defendant, the strength of the prosecutor’s case, if the defendant is eligible for probation, and if the defendant cooperated with the police at the time of his/her arrest. 

The following are some of the common wobbler crimes in California: 

  • Assault with a deadly weapon 

  • Carrying a loaded gun in public 

  • Vehicular manslaughter 

  • Child endangerment 

  • Sexual battery 

  • Statutory rape 

  • Lewd acts with a minor 

  • Stalking 

  • Grand theft 

  • Burglary 

  • Forgery 

  • Making criminal threats 

In addition, there are several offenses known as “wobblette” crimes, which can be charged as either a misdemeanor or an infraction that is often punishable by only a fine of up to $250 and no jail time. 

Common wobblette offenses in California include: 

  • Criminal tresspass 

  • Disturbing the peace 

  • Driving with a revoked or suspended license 

  • Driving without a license 

  • Exhibition of speed 

  • Failure to appear in traffic court 

Keep in mind, the defendant must first consent to have a wobblette charged as an infraction rather than misdemeanor. The main reason is because a trial is not held for an infraction, which means the defendant is not entitled to a lawyer or public defender (unless he/she is in police custody). Some defendants prefer to be charged with a misdemeanor to serve a jail term, instead of paying a fine. 

If you have been charged with a wobbler or wobblette in Riverside County, contact Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich today at (951) 506-6654 for a free initial consultation. Serving residents in Murrieta, Corona, and throughout the county. 

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