A wobbler is an offense that can result in felony or misdemeanor charges. The prosecutor decides how to charge you based on the specifics of your case and your criminal history. But based on the evidence presented in court, the judge can also treat a wobbler violation as a felony or misdemeanor. If you face a felony conviction for a wobbler offense, you can request the court's reduction of the charge to a misdemeanor.
You will either face misdemeanor or felony convictions for a wobbler offense. As a result, your lawyer will assist you in filing for expungement according to the specifics of your conviction. Removing a misdemeanor conviction from your record is simple if you receive probation rather than a jail sentence. Even though a felony conviction is difficult to expunge, a knowledgeable criminal lawyer will know the best approach to use to achieve the desired results.
An Overview of Wobbler Crimes in California
You can face charges for an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony if you commit a crime in California, depending on how severe your actions are. A court fine only sanctions less severe offenses, like infractions. Some crimes are straight felonies, whereas others are misdemeanors. But there are wobbler offenses. They can result in felony or misdemeanor punishment. The prosecutor typically makes the decision to file a felony or misdemeanor charge when bringing charges against you for a wobbler offense.
If you commit a severe wobbler violation and have a significant criminal history, the prosecutor can charge you with a felony. But if you want less severe consequences after conviction, you can request to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor. The following four situations allow you to have your wobbler offense's felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor:
- If the district attorney charges you with a felony for a wobbler violation, they can offer a plea deal to reduce the charges to a misdemeanor.
- When you appear in court for a preliminary hearing to answer your charges, the judge can reduce your felony charge to a misdemeanor.
- During sentencing.
- You can seek to reduce your conviction from a felony to a misdemeanor if you were guilty of a felony for a wobbler violation, did not receive a prison sentence, and have completed felony probation.
Note that after serving your term, a felony conviction for a straight felony cannot be reduced to an infraction or misdemeanor. Only wobbler offenses can be treated this way.
The law does not have specific criteria that prosecutors must follow to charge wobbler offenses. They can choose that at their exclusive discretion. However, the District Attorneys Association's reprimand of the Uniform Crime Charging Standards heavily influences their choice. According to these guidelines, prosecutors should take into account the following factors before filing charges for wobbler crimes:
- The gravity of your offense.
- Your level of cooperation with the police during and after the arrest.
- Your criminal history.
- Your age.
- Your possibility of continuous criminal conduct.
- If you are eligible for probation.
- The evidence the police have gathered against you.
The Need for Expungement
You will have a criminal record if you commit a crime that results in an arrest, charges, and conviction. Even after you have handled the issue, that record will still impact your life. It could be challenging for you to go on with your life when, for example, you start looking for employment after serving your term. It makes sense, therefore, to undergo a procedure that would probably result in removing that criminal record. A detrimental criminal record can be released through the legal process of expungement. You are given a blank slate on which to rebuild and start life anew.
The law permits you to go through a legal procedure that can seal your criminal records and make them invisible to the public. You can have difficulties after serving a criminal sentence if people find out about your criminal history. Criminal histories are typically accessible to the public. Anyone can search your background to find out about your criminal record. In that case, a potential employer can reject your application based on your past. You risk missing a lot of chances in life, including the opportunity to enroll in the institution of your choice. You should think about expungement because of this.
Expungement removes the stigma that possessing a criminal record will probably bring with it. A conviction affects your relationships since nobody likes to be around criminals. You will probably lose your job and be kicked out of school. All of that can be eliminated through expungement, allowing you to start again without dealing with this stigma. People will not treat you differently because of your criminal history since they will not access it after your record is expunged.
Record Expungement for a Wobbler Offense
Penal Code 1203.4 deals with expungement. To have the court dismiss your case and erase your criminal record, you must withdraw your guilty or no contest plea and submit a not guilty plea for a crime for which you have already served time. Through this process, you will be free of all the penalties and adverse effects of a criminal conviction.
An expungement is an option for all offenders, regardless of whether you have a felony or minor conviction. But you have to fulfill the following requirements:
- You must successfully finish your probation for the offense.
- You must not have served prison time for the crime.
- You were sentenced to a prison term, but if you had committed the offense after the passage of Prop. 47 Realignment, you could have received a jail sentence.
If you are still completing your prison term for the offense, are on probation, or are being investigated for another crime, you do not qualify for expungement.
You can ask the court to seal the record of the conviction if you meet all the requirements for your wobbler offense. Your procedure will differ depending on whether you are guilty of a misdemeanor or felony.
Expungement of a Misdemeanor Conviction
Your criminal counsel can aid in the expungement procedure if you are guilty of a misdemeanor for a wobbler violation. You will take the following steps to seal the conviction record:
- Make sure you finish your probation for the initial offense.
- Make sure that the underlying offense satisfies the legal requirements for expungement.
- Fill out the essential documents with the aid of your criminal counsel in the appropriate superior court and within the stipulated deadlines.
- Attend every expungement hearing the judge schedules in person or with a lawyer.
However, you can only request an expungement once your probation is up. To ensure your eligibility for expungement, you must also adhere to all the conditions and demands of your probation. For example, if victim restitution and court fines are part of your sentence, you must pay them. Additionally, you must do the required number of hours of community service. You can ask for an early probation termination if you are ready to have your criminal record erased. Remember that you must submit this application before starting the expungement procedure. You can begin the expungement process once the court has ended your probation.
The judge will consider your probation violation while deciding your case. Your prospects of obtaining an expungement can be harmed by violating your probation. However, a determined expungement lawyer can support your quest for a just conclusion to your case. If a violation occurs, the judge will conduct a special hearing to establish the specifics of the violation and whether the court can excuse it in the interests of justice. If that happens, the judge will approve your petition, which will result in the expungement of your criminal record.
Expungement of a Felony Conviction
Remember that a wobbler offense can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. It could be challenging to have a felony conviction removed from your record. But that does not imply that it cannot occur. Your attorney can seek a charge reduction before or after the sentence to make things simpler for you. Removing a conviction for a wobbler offense from your criminal record should be simple after it is reduced to a misdemeanor.
In wobbler cases, California PC 17(b) allows prosecutors and judges to downgrade a felony to a misdemeanor. Judges can decide this matter in any of the following circumstances:
- When the prosecution reads your allegations during the preliminary hearing.
- After the jury has returned a guilty verdict, during sentencing.
- You can request the court to reduce your felony conviction to a misdemeanor following the completion of your felony sentence.
Keep in mind that judges have no say in how prosecutors charge offenses. The decision lies with the prosecutor based on the facts of the case, the defendant’s criminal history, and the presence of mitigating circumstances. However, a judge can reduce a wobbler felony to a misdemeanor if your case has mitigating factors. Mitigating circumstances can reduce the guilt or severity of a criminal act. They can influence the judge to be merciful. Examples include
- Your prior criminal history — If you have no or insignificant previous criminal record, the judge can be more forgiving.
- If you took part in the crime directly or indirectly, or even if you merely had a little supporting role.
- If you took any precautions to prevent damaging property or hurting people.
- If you willingly admitted misconduct while the criminal investigation is still in progress
- If you compensated the victims.
- Whether you fulfilled the conditions of your probation or parole.
Paperwork to File When Applying for Expungement
Remember that expungement only occurs once the original offense's sentence has been completed. It occurs long after you have pleaded guilty or no contest to a wobbler offense. You must next submit a petition to have that plea dismissed in such a situation. You must file a not guilty plea instead of withdrawing your guilty or no contest pleading. It is the only way the court will remove and destroy your criminal record. If a jury rendered a verdict before your conviction, you must ask the court to have that decision overturned. The judge will set a date for the expungement hearing once the court grants your request.
You have two options for the hearing: either show up in person or send your expungement lawyer.
During this hearing, your counsel must prove to the judge that your conviction should be removed from your criminal record in the interests of justice. They can offer evidence to back up their claims and make your case stronger. For example, they can demonstrate how challenging it has been to find suitable work or a rental home since the conviction. If the judge concurs, they will overturn your conviction and drop all charges related to the original wobbler offense.
At least fifteen days before the expungement hearing, your counsel must inform the prosecutor in writing of their intention to file an expungement petition. The prosecution has considerable time to gather information and formulate defenses before challenging the petition. The prosecution has the option to contest the expungement. They cannot later contest the expungement if they fail to do so during the healing process.
Your prosecutor will also pay a filing fee. The cost will vary depending on the type of crime you want to be removed from your record. Expunction filing costs are often cheaper for infractions and more expensive for felonies.
Find a Skilled Expungement Attorney Near Me
Do you have a wobbler offense conviction and want it expunged in Los Angeles?
It helps to understand how the intricate legal process works to prepare yourself. It helps even more when you have the advice and assistance of a skilled expungement lawyer. Your lawyer will investigate your case's specifics and advise you on your options. Additionally, they will expedite your legal procedure and employ the most effective tactics to secure a good result.
At Record Expungement Attorney, we handle all types of expungement cases. Our knowledge and expertise could persuade the court to lift all the restrictions and punishments associated with your conviction. Call us at 424-286-1516 to find out more about our services and your options.