Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law

What is a “wobbler” crime?

It is well-known that if you are facing criminal charges, the charge will either be categorized as a misdemeanor or a felony. Between the two, felony charges result in much more severe punishments. In California, if you are convicted of a felony you may have to spend time in a state prison facility, be placed on probation, lose your voting rights, and face various other serious consequences. Misdemeanors are much more informal in nature and may only require time in county jail. This is very straightforward, except for the fact that in California system, some crimes are considered “wobbler” offenses. One of the more well-known wobbler offenses is California Penal Code Section 273.5(a) PC: Corporal Injury To Spouse.

Essentially, in some domestic violence cases, the prosecution has the choice whether to charge the accused with either a misdemeanor or a felony for the same potential offense depending on the situation. Most often, this means that the defendant has no idea regarding the severity of the charge until the prosecutor files the paperwork and levies the charges.

Cases with wobbler crimes often require more nuance on the part of the legal experts as compared to cut-and-dried misdemeanor or felony cases. An important fact about wobbler offenses is that even though while a traditional misdemeanor has a one-year statute of limitations, a wobbler offense has the same statute of limitations as the felony charge. This applies even if the charge ultimately ends up being a misdemeanor.

If you are being accused of a wobbler crime, the situation is much more complex as compared to a straight misdemeanor or felony.