Why Certain Crimes in California Can Be Charged as Felony or Misdemeanor
Under California law, criminal offenses are broadly classified into misdemeanors and felonies. Crimes of a less serious nature are usually charged as misdemeanors and serious crimes are charged as felonies. However, for some crimes, you could face either California misdemeanor charges or felony charges – depending on the circumstances. These crimes are commonly referred to as wobblers.
What are Wobblers and Why Can They be Charged as Misdemeanor or Felony?
The California Penal Code clearly defines what constitutes a misdemeanor and what constitutes a felony. Even so, wobblers are crimes that could fit into either category, depending on a number of factors. It is up to the prosecution to decide whether a wobbler crime should be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, with the judge having final say during sentencing.
The most common example of a wobbler crime in California is DUI. Under normal circumstances, you could face California misdemeanor charges for a DUI. However, if you seriously injure or kill someone while driving drunk, or if you already have three or more DUI convictions on your record, you could face California felony charges.
Similarly, assault is a wobbler crime which is generally charged as a misdemeanor. Still, it can be upgraded to a felony under the following circumstances:
- If a deadly weapon was displayed to threaten the victim
- If a deadly weapon was used to inflict injuries on the victim
- If the victim is a government employee, emergency responder, or police officer
- If the victim is a minor or an elderly person
- If the victim is physically handicapped or mentally challenged and incapable of defending themselves
- If the assault resulted in serious bodily injuries to the victim
Other wobbler crimes for which you could face either California felony charges or misdemeanor charges include:
- Grand theft
- Child endangerment
- Child abuse
- Domestic violence
- Lewd acts with a minor
- Making deadly threats
Apart from the aggravating circumstances mentioned above, prosecutors in California also take a wide range of other factors into account to decide whether a wobbler crime should be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. These include:
- Your age
- Whether it is your first offense or if you have a criminal record
- The severity of the crime you are charged with
- Whether you are likely to commit crimes again
- Whether you are willing to cooperate with law enforcement
Are You Facing California Misdemeanor Charges or Felony Charges for a Wobbler Crime? We Can Help You!
If you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges for a wobbler crime, the experienced California criminal defense attorneys at Paladin Legal Defenders can help you. With over 60 years of combined experience and unmatched legal expertise, we are best suited to represent you and fight for your rights and freedom.
Our legal team includes a former police officer and a former prosecutor, both of whom have first-hand knowledge of how the criminal justice system in California works. It allows us to anticipate the prosecution’s strategies, mount the most aggressive defense possible, and get results that most other firms cannot.
If you are facing California felony charges or misdemeanor charges, call us today at 714-536-9988 or contact us online and schedule a free consultation.