In California, certain crimes, known as "wobblers," can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Common California wobbler crimes include:
- Carrying a loaded firearm in public
- Child endangerment
- Grand theft
- Lewd acts with a minor
- Making criminal threats
- Sexual battery
- Spousal battery
- Statutory rape
- Vehicular manslaughter
Prosecutors have the choice of how to charge a wobbler but judges often have the final say. For instance, if a prosecutor charges a wobbler as a felony, the judge can reduce it to a misdemeanor at sentencing.
Additionally, there are a handful of crimes that are considered “wobblettes.” These are crimes that “wobble” between a misdemeanor and a non-criminal infraction.
Common California “wobblette” offenses include:
- Disturbing the peace
- Driving without a license
- Criminal trespass
- Exhibition of speed
- Failure to appear for a traffic violation
- Driving with a suspended or revoked license
There is no standard based on California law to help prosecutors determine which cases are eligible for wobblers. Rather, the prosecution has complete discretion, but base their decision according to the Uniform Crime Charging Standards published by the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA).
The CDAA recommends that prosecutors consider all of the following factors:
- The severity of the crime
- The defendant’s criminal history
- The defendant’s cooperation with police
- The defendant’s age
- The probability of becoming a repeat offender
- The strength of the prosecutor’s case
- If probation is possible
Most misdemeanors in California can be punished by up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
If you have been arrested for a crime in Ventura County, request a free criminal consultation with our Santa Barbara criminal defense attorney at Appel & Morse today.