When you have been accused of committing a criminal offense, our criminal defense lawyers understand what you are going through. It can be scary to face charges with serious penalties. It can be even more frightening to know that the penalties can fall into either a misdemeanor or a felony.
You may think you know what types of penalties you are facing with your charges. However, with a wobbler offense, your fate is literally in the hands of the prosecutor. Learn about wobbler offenses and how our law firm can help your case.
What Is a Wobbler Offense?
A wobbler offense is a crime that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. In California, many crimes can fall under wobbler offenses. It is up to the prosecutor as to how your charge will be categorized.
There are many elements that prosecutors consider when they decide how to pursue a charge. One of the most important considerations is the severity of the crime. Another factor involves other characteristics known as aggravating factors.
What Are Some Examples of Wobbler Offenses?
Many crimes can fall under wobbler offenses. Some common examples of wobbler offenses are assault, sexual assault or rape, child endangerment, stalking, DUIs, and burglary. These crimes can be classified as misdemeanors but can easily become felonies.
For example, carjacking is a misdemeanor crime of theft. This charge can be escalated to vehicular manslaughter, however, if you allegedly hit and killed a pedestrian during the commission of the original carjacking crime.
Violent crimes and nonviolent crimes can fall under wobbler offenses. Nonviolent crimes such as forgery or extortion can also be classified as felonies. Being charged with a violent crime is serious. You should never try to represent yourself when charged with a violent crime. You will benefit from working with a violent crime lawyer instead.
What Are Aggravating Factors?
Aggravating factors are the conditions of a crime that determine the severity of the punishment.
These factors depend on the jurisdiction and the specific crime that was committed. Some examples of aggravating factors include:
- The offender’s past criminal history
- The offender’s remorse, or lack of remorse
- Whether the crime involved a minor
- Whether a weapon was used during the crime
- The amount of harm done to the victim
- The location of the crime
- The offender’s current probation status
Additional factors can be the offender’s age, the victim’s age, and whether the offender cooperates with law enforcement. The prosecutor will also consider whether you are likely to commit crimes in the future.
What Is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?
If you have been accused of a crime, you would rather be charged with a misdemeanor charge instead of a felony. Your penalties will be less severe when your charges are classified as misdemeanors. Although you still may have to suffer imprisonment or fines, the length of jail or prison time and the amount of fines will not be as intense as a felony.
When your charges are classified as felonies, the penalties are harsher. The penalties must match the severity level of the offense. Lengthier prison sentences and excessive fines characterize felony charges.
If My Charges Are Classified as Misdemeanors, Will They Remain Misdemeanors?
One of the dangers of wobbler offenses is that nothing is set in stone. Your charge is not guaranteed to remain a misdemeanor. Aggravating factors from your alleged criminal activity could cause your charge to become a felony.
Let us suppose you were accused of drug trafficking. If your drug trafficking occurred around or in front of a school, the prosecutor would consider that as an aggravating factor since minors were put at risk. That may cause your charge to become a felony.
Another aggravating factor can be the offender’s past criminal history. If you face a first-time conviction of assault, it may remain a misdemeanor. However, if you have a prior conviction history of assault or other crimes, you may have your assault charge transformed into a felony.
Can the Prosecution Reduce My Felony Charge to a Misdemeanor?
Fortunately, your felony charges can also be reduced to misdemeanor charges. The prosecutor can reduce a wobbler crime from a felony to a misdemeanor at certain times during the legal process, such as:
- During the first charge of the offense
- At a felony preliminary hearing where the offender must answer to the offense
- During sentencing
- After the offender has filed a petition to reduce the charge and participated in California’s felony probation
Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Encino can increase your chances of having a felony reduced.
How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Encino, CA, Help with My Wobbler Offense?
A criminal defense lawyer in Encino, CA, can help present the best evidence for the prosecution to consider. There are ways for your charges to be reduced to a misdemeanor. Criminal defense lawyers know the right type of evidence that can be used to prove your innocence.
An Encino criminal defense lawyer will also be familiar with different defenses that can be used to cast doubt on your guilt. Each criminal offense has different elements that must be met to prove your guilt. If one or several of these elements are missing, your charges may be reduced to a misdemeanor.
Your criminal defense attorney in Encino, CA, can use the right evidence and defenses to build the best case in your favor.
Where Can I Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Encino, CA?
You can reach out to a criminal defense lawyer in Encino, CA, at the Simmrin Law Group. Our law firm treats our clients like family. Our team of reputable criminal defense attorneys understands that everyone makes mistakes. We want to help you achieve the best possible outcome for you in your circumstances.
We are committed to providing the best legal representation available to our clients without judgment. Speak with a criminal defense lawyer from the Simmrin Law Group when you’re ready to build your defense.