Wobbler Overview A wobbler is any crime that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Common wobbler charges include: * Penal Code section 245(a)(1) – assault with a deadly weapon * Penal Code section 273a(a) – child endangerment where GBI can occur * Penal Code section 273d(a) – child abuse * Penal Code section 273.5 – domestic violence with injury * Penal Code section 422 – deadly threats * Penal Code section 459-460(b) – second degree burglary (aka commercial burglary) * Penal Code section 487 – grand theft * Vehicle Code section 23153 – DUI with injury The District Attorney’s office will decide whether a person is charged with a felony or misdemeanor depending on the specific circumstances of each case. An experienced attorney might be able to speak with the District Attorney’s office ahead of time to convince them to file a charge as a misdemeanor as opposed to a felony, but that would require hiring an attorney almost immediately after being arrested. If a crime is charged as a felony, it can later be reduced to a misdemeanor, either by the DA (through negotiation) or by the judge (over the DA’s objection). Furthermore, after a case has finished and probation has expired, a judge can reduce a felony to a misdemeanor pursuant to a 17(b) motion. This motion can be used to reduce any felony-wobbler to a misdemeanor as long as the defendant was not sent to state prison for the offense. The maximum penalty for any wobbler that is charged as a misdemeanor is one year county jail. For most wobbler offenses, the maximum penalty is 3 years state prison if the crime is charged as a felony. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, the maximum punishment for felony child endangerment, Penal Code section 273a(a), or felony child abuse, Penal Code section 273d(a), is 6 years state prison. Other Consequences The difference between a misdemeanor or a felony can have a severe impact on immigration status, employment and licensing status. There are several crimes that might not lead to deportation or denial of admission with a misdemeanor conviction but could lead to these deportation or denial of admission with a felony conviction. Some employers only ask whether their employees have been convicted of a felony. Every felony conviction must be reported to a licensing agency and felony convictions are treated more harshly than misdemeanor convictions. The Right Lawyer Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer will be the most important decision someone can make when facing a wobbler charge. Many people who wobbler charges are good people who made a mistake or exercised poor judgment. There are also some people who have been wrongfully accused of a wobbler, based on a misunderstanding or false evidence. You need an attorney who will listen to your side of the story carefully, who will evaluate the evidence thoroughly, who will negotiate with the judge and the District Attorney’s office skillfully, and who will fight in trial aggressively. You need an attorney like Fred Thiagarajah. As a former Deputy District Attorney, Fred Thiagarajah has the negotiating skills and trial experience necessary to get the best results for his clients. Since he has prosecuted wobbler cases as a prosecutor, he now uses his experience in wobbler cases to get the best possible outcomes for his clients. For an example of his work, please see his case results and read his client testimonials. With offices in Newport Beach, Beverly Hills and Riverside, Fred Thiagarajah has criminal defense experience in Orange, Los Angeles and Riverside Counties.