In most states, the law clearly distinguishes between felonies and misdemeanors. California also does this—to some degree. For instance, rape and murder are always felonies, while prostitution and solicitation are always misdemeanors. However, there is a large gray area in the California penal code of crimes known as “wobblers.”

Wobblers are a category of hybrid crimes, which may be filed as either felonies or misdemeanors—at the discretion of the prosecutor or judge. Felonies are the most serious type of crime, and the punishment is usually imprisonment. Misdemeanors are less serious and usually punishable by a short jail term or fines. Therefore, if you’re facing felony charges for a wobbler, getting your charge reduced to a misdemeanor can be extraordinarily beneficial.

In today’s post, we examine how wobblers can work to reduce your charges:

Prosecution’s decision

Even if your charge is filed as a felony, the prosecution may choose to reduce it to a misdemeanor before your case ever goes to trial. For instance, if you’ve been charged with felony conspiracy to commit fraud, you could strike a plea deal with the prosecution in which you agree to plead guilty to this crime as a misdemeanor—and in exchange, the prosecutor agrees to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor.

Judge’s decision

Your lawyer can also work to convince the judge to reduce your charge from a felony to a misdemeanor. They can do this:

  • At preliminary hearing,
  • At sentencing,
  • At end of your probation or even
  • Years after your sentence has been served.

If you’re facing criminal charges in California, there may be an opportunity for you to get your charges considerably reduced. An experienced criminal defense attorney will understand how to use the wobbler provision to your advantage.