Have You Been Charged With a Crime?
If you are charged with a criminal offense in Southern California, whether the charge is a felony or a misdemeanor, it is imperative for you to contact an Orange County criminal defense attorney immediately to discuss your rights, your options, and a legal strategy for your defense.
Everyone, of course, knows about misdemeanors and felony charges, but not everyone knows about “wobblers.” In California, wobblers are certain crimes that may be charged, at a prosecutor’s or judge’s discretion, as either felonies or as misdemeanors.
What are your rights if you are charged with one of these crimes? If you are charged with a felony, can your lawyer have the charge reduced to a misdemeanor? What if you’re innocent of any crime? Keep reading this brief discussion of wobblers for the answers you may need.
Which Criminal Charges Are Wobbler Charges?
California’s wobbler laws cover a variety of crimes, including but not limited to vehicular manslaughter, assault with a deadly weapon, vandalism, money laundering, sex crimes, fraud crimes, theft, driving under the influence, and certain crimes of domestic violence.
Some charges are wobblers only in specific circumstances. For instance, petty theft, which is usually charged as a misdemeanor, is a wobbler charge if the defendant has already served prison time for specific theft-related crimes. Grand theft, however, is always a wobbler charge.
How Are Wobbler Charges Decided?
A wobbler is a felony charge until a prosecutor or judge exercises discretion to charge the offense as a misdemeanor.
When deciding if a wobbler should be charged as a misdemeanor, a prosecutor will take into account the nature of the offense, the strength of the evidence, and the offender’s:
- age and criminal history
- cooperation or failure to cooperate with the police
- eligibility for probation
- likelihood of continued criminal behavior
Every legal jurisdiction in California and every prosecutor in this state handles wobblers differently. In some jurisdictions, for example, most wobbler charges are prosecuted as felonies, but in other jurisdictions, most wobblers are charged as misdemeanors.
When Can a Wobbler Charge Become a Misdemeanor Charge?
A wobbler charge may be reduced to a misdemeanor charge at four different points in the California criminal justice process:
- when the charge is filed
- at a felony preliminary hearing
- at sentencing
- after completing felony probation and petitioning to have the charge reduced
When Do Judges Reduce Wobbler Charges?
Without regard to a prosecutor’s decision, judges in California also have the discretion to reduce a wobbler to a misdemeanor charge when there are “mitigating circumstances” in the case. Those circumstances include but are not limited to the following:
- The defendant confessed his or her crime early in the criminal justice process.
- The defendant has no serious previous convictions or is a first-time offender.
- The defendant’s part in the crime was passive or minor.
- The defendant was careful to avoid causing property damage or harm to others.
- The defendant has paid restitution to the crime victim or victims.
Can a Conviction for a Wobbler Offense Be Expunged?
An expunged criminal conviction cannot be seen by landlords, by most employers, or by the general public, and expunged convictions do not have to be mentioned when you apply for most jobs.
Whether a wobbler charge was prosecuted as a felony or as a misdemeanor, if you were convicted and you’ve completed your sentence, you may petition the court to have the conviction expunged if:
- You have completed probation successfully or you received early termination of probation.
- You did not serve a prison term or that term would now be a jail term under Proposition 47.
If you are charged with a wobbler or another offense in Southern California, contact an Orange County criminal defense attorney immediately. In some cases, your defense attorney may persuade the prosecutor to pursue a misdemeanor rather than a felony charge or to drop the charge entirely.
Can the Charge Against You Be Dismissed?
In what circumstances can a criminal case be dismissed by a California court? Listed below are several of the most common reasons why the courts in this state may dismiss a criminal case:
- a lack of any probable cause for police officers to have stopped, searched, or arrested you
- tainted, missing, or insufficient evidence against you
- a legal paperwork mistake
- a witness changed his or her testimony or became unavailable
What Should You Know if the Police Arrest You?
If you are taken into police custody and charged with any felony or misdemeanor in Southern California, these are your “Miranda” rights:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything that you say may be used against you in a court of law.
- You have a right to have your lawyer present for any questioning.
While you’re in police custody, if the police want to interrogate you, simply say something like, “I would prefer not to answer any questions until my lawyer can be here,” and then say no more, and contact an Orange County criminal defense lawyer at the first possible opportunity.
If you are charged with any felony or misdemeanor here in Southern California, you must have a top criminal defense lawyer advising and representing you. Your freedom and your future will be at risk. But how can you select the right criminal defense attorney?
Meet Attorney Diane C. Bass
For more than twenty-five years, Orange County criminal defense lawyer Diane C. Bass has advised and represented clients charged with a variety of crimes in Southern California’s state and federal courts. If the charge against you is a wobbler, contact the Law Office of Diane C. Bass immediately.
Throughout southern California, award-winning defense attorney Diane C. Bass wins the justice that her clients need. If you are facing a criminal charge in this state, she will personally evaluate your case with no obligation or cost.
If the charge cannot be dropped or dismissed, Diane C. Bass may negotiate on your behalf for an acceptable plea bargain or take your case to trial and fight for your acquittal. She will investigate the evidence against you, protect your rights, and bring the case to its best possible conclusion.
If you are charged with a wobbler or with another felony or misdemeanor in this state, now or in the future, immediately call the Law Office of Diane C. Bass in Irvine at 949-577-8368.