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What is a Wobbler?

Many California offenses qualify for punishment as either felonies or misdemeanors. A crime which can be filed as either a felony or a misdemeanor is called, in lawyer slang terms, a "wobbler".

California Penal Code section 17 permits conversion of a felony offense to a misdemeanor under several types of circumstances. A district attorney may file a criminal complaint alleging a "wobbler" as a misdemeanor. If you have been charged with a "wobbler" offense that has been filed as a felony, a district attorney has reviewed an offense report and has decided that the case is serious enough to be prosecuted as a felony. Similarly, if you are being prosecuted for a "wobbler" offense as a misdemeanor, a district attorney has decided that the case is not serious enough for felony prosecution.

After a preliminary hearing or at the time of sentencing after trial or a plea, a court may, at the request of the defendant's lawyer, make a "wobbler" offense a misdemeanor. In either case, the court will be second-guessing the district attorney's discretion and determining that the case should be a misdemeanor.

If you are uncertain about whether a particular charge is a "wobbler", contact Campbell Whitten for a consultation.