Posted on March 10, 2017

Explanation of a California “Wobbler” Offense

In California, a wobbler is a crime that is punishable either as a felony or misdemeanor.  Typically, the District Attorney holds discretion about whether someone should be charged with either a felony or misdemeanor.  Factors the prosecutor considers are someone’s prior criminal history, whether anyone suffered physical injury, and the planning or sophistication of the offense.  If the prosecutor elects to charge someone with a felony, a defendant may make a motion to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor at certain stages of the case.

To determine whether a charge is a wobbler offense, a simple reading of the statute will be telling.  For example, if the statute makes the crime punishable in either the county jail or state prison (or subject to PC 1170(h)), then the crime is a wobbler.

Take for instance the crime of resisting an executive officer with violence – a violation of Penal Code 69(a).  “Every person who attempts, by means of any threat or violence, to deter or prevent an executive officer from performing any duty imposed upon the officer by law, or who knowingly resists, by the use of force or violence, the officer, in the performance of his or her duty, is punishable by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of section 1170, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.”  Because this statute makes it clear that a conviction makes it punishable in either the county jail or pursuant to PC 1170, the crime is a wobbler.

For more information, contact an Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers to schedule a free consultation.

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