Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Wobbler Definition:

An offense known to American criminal law which offers to the district attorney the option of charging as a misdemeanor or as a felony.

Similar to the concept, in Canadian criminal law, of a hybrid offence.

In US v Viezcas-Soto, Justice Beam of the United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit wrote:

"A felony ... is any federal, state, or local offense punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.

"Application of that fairly straightforward definition is complicated in this case, however, by the fact Viezcas-Soto was convicted of violating California Penal Code section 261.5(c).[1] That offense, a so-called wobbler, is either a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding one year or a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for up to three years....

"[A]n offense punishable either by imprisonment in the state prison or by a county jail sentence is said to wobble between the two punishments and hence is frequently called a wobbler offense."

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