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  • former deputy public defender

    As a former Deputy Public Defender in Riverside County, Mr. Donath has always been on the defense side of the law. 

  • award winning certified criminal law specialist

    Top 100 Trial Attorneys in California 2012-2014, 2008 Trial Attorney of the Year by the Riverside County Public Defender's Office, and dozens of other awards and accolades.

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    Your lawyer should have a passion for defense, not just a passion for money. Reputation, vigor, and determination go a long way in this business.

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Explaining “Wobbler” Offenses in California

Posted in General FAQ'S on March 29, 2017

Criminal offenses generally fall into one of two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are typically light or nonviolent offenses such as petty theft, unpaid fines, or traffic violations. Felonies are more serious, such as violent assaults, fraud, murder, and gross negligence. In the state of California, the law defines wobbler” offenses as any offense that could potentially qualify as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

If you are facing charges for a wobbler offense, the prosecution will decide to charge you with a misdemeanor or felony depending on the specifics of the case and your criminal history. If you have no criminal record and the event was minimally damaging, you are more likely to receive a misdemeanor charge. If you have a criminal record or are a repeat offender, a felony charge is more likely.

The Importance of Wobbler Offenses

Aside from the obvious harsher punishments, felonies carry significant repercussions. In addition to stiffer sentencing, receiving a felony charge can lead to losing certain rights and damages your record. If you receive a wobbler felony charge, you may be able to petition the court later to have the conviction reduced to misdemeanor status. Arguing for a reduction to a misdemeanor will hinge on your ability to argue your position, and your attorney can help you find what you need to do. In some cases, you may even be able to have the charge expunged from your record.

The difference between a felony charge and a misdemeanor charge can be enormous. While misdemeanors may only result in moderate fines, community service, or the temporary loss of certain privileges, felony charges typically lead to jail or prison time, much heavier fines, and a permanently tarnished record.

One of the best assets you can have on your side when confronting wobbler offenses is a reliable defense attorney. If your attorney is able to prove that your actions during the incident in question were not severe enough to warrant felony classification, he will potentially have saved you a great deal of time and money. Again, the specifics of your case and your criminal history are going to be the most influential factors in determining which way your charges “wobble.”.

Finding the Right Riverside Defense Attorney

Defense attorneys specialize in criminal law. When police arrest suspects who do not have the means to hire a private criminal defense attorney, the court will provide the suspect with a public defender. If you find yourself accused of a wobbler offense, it is imperative to find the right defense attorney to represent your case.

Try to find a local defense attorney. Typically, the attorney you hire from a local firm will have extensive experience dealing with the courthouse and possibly even the judge assigned to your case. A local defense attorney will have a deep understanding of local law enforcement, prosecutors, and court proceedings, and this can be invaluable when arguing your case.

Additionally, look for a criminal defense attorney with experience handling the charges you face. For example, if you face charges for driving under the influence, the case could result in misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the specifics of the incident that led to your arrest. A Riverside DUI lawyer with vast experience in handling diving under the influence cases will likely know what factors will impact your case and be able to mount a much better defense than a less experienced defense attorney or public defender.

Ultimately, thorough research is going to be the best way to find the best criminal defense attorney. Take the time to thoroughly vet potential defense attorneys before agreeing to representation, as your attorney’s ability to argue your case will likely be the most important factor in “wobbling” your charges to misdemeanor status. To schedule a free consultation with the Law Offices of Graham Donath, APC,  call us today or fill out our online contact form