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Wobbler Definition

A statute is a wobbler when it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Many statutes in the United States enable either the court or the district attorney to decide how to apply the statute pursuant to the unique facts of each case.

What Factors Are Used to Decide How to Charge a Wobbler Statute?

To determine whether a felony or misdemeanor charge will be applied, both the court and the district attorney consider factors such as:

  • How many crimes were committed in the particular case?

If a defendant commits more than one crime, then a court or district attorney is likely going to enforce the maximum punishment. Each case has its own unique circumstances and facts. How a wobbler statute is decided will depend on the state where the crime occurred along with the particular details of the crime.

  • What is the defendant’s criminal history?

If a defendant has only committed one offense and it is their first offense, many times, the court and district attorney will not pursue a felony charge. Instead, they will opt for community service or a rehabilitation program to avoid future criminal offenses.

  • What damages did the victim suffer?

When determining whether an offense is a felony or misdemeanor, a court and district attorney will also look to what damages the victim suffered when deciding whether to apply a felony or misdemeanor charge.

  • What is the age of the defendant?

The defendant’s age is absolutely considered when deciding whether to apply a wobbler statute because certain criminal records are able to be sealed for juveniles. If a minor commits a sex offense; however, a district attorney or court may want to pursue a felony charge.

  • Is the defendant likely to commit future crimes?

When deciding between a felony and misdemeanor charge, courts and the district attorney are usually going to assess whether the defendant will commit future crimes? The criminal justice system within the United States tries to enhance the rehabilitation of criminals, which is why this factor is very important in deciding whether a criminal can obtain help through a court mandate.

  • Did the defendant cooperate with law enforcement?

If a defendant did not cooperate with law enforcement and refused arrest, then it is likely that a court or district attorney will push for a felony charge rather than a misdemeanor. Conversely, if the defendant did actively cooperate with law enforcement, then a misdemeanor offense may be applied.

  • Was the defendant eligible for probation?

If the defendant has committed a prior offense, they may be on probation, and the commission of another offense violates that probation. A court and district attorney will take this into account when deciding whether to make the next charge a misdemeanor or felony offense.

  • Does the prosecution have a strong case?

The strength of the prosecution’s case is a key factor in determining whether a wobbler statute will be applied as a felony or misdemeanor charge.

What Is an Aggravating Factor?

An aggravating factor is typically defined as a factor that would cause a crime that is a misdemeanor to be converted into a felony charge. If an individual was committing a wobbler misdemeanor offense and then a victim was murdered, this could convert the crime into a felony charge. In addition, aggravating factors can be when drugs, alcohol or deadly weapons are a part of the crime that was committed. What is important to remember is that the unique facts of each crime are different, and those facts will determine how a court or district attorney will apply a wobbler statute.

Wobbler statutes are very important to understand, and each statute varies depending on the crime along with the state where the crime was committed. It is best to work with an attorney when being charged with a statute that is a wobbler because if the charge is elevated to a felony, it will greatly impact the possible fine and prison sentence.

Wobbler Glossary Definition

Wobbler statutes are statutes that can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies. Wobbler statutes are very important because they can greatly impact how a defendant will serve their sentence. Each state has its own list of wobbler statutes that are organized depending on the nature of the crime committed.