A wobbler is an offense that can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The prosecutor has discretion in what charge to seek, taking numerous facts into account before determining how to proceed.
These factors include but are not limited to:
- Any extenuating circumstances, such as mental incapacity
- Past criminal history
- Attitude towards cooperation
- Remorse displayed by the defendant
- Any other mitigating factors based on the evidence presented in court
However, some serious crimes – such as murder – will never qualify for wobbler status due to their severity.
If convicted of a misdemeanor, sentences may include probation with stipulations such as community service hours, fines, jail time (typically short sentences), restitution payments for damages caused by the offender’s actions, or substance abuse classes, if applicable.
Felony-level punishments could include fines and significant time in state prison (depending on the nature of the offense). Probation may also be considered for felonies, but harsher penalties could result if probation conditions are violated.
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Consequences of a Felony Conviction in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, felonies are divided into three classes: 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-degree. The penalties break down as follows:
- First-degree felony: 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
- Second-degree felony: 5 to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $25,000.
- Third-degree felony: 3.5 to 7 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
The sentences may be different for a specific case, depending on the facts and circumstances.
Consequences of a Misdemeanor Conviction in Pennsylvania
Misdemeanors are split into three classes—1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-degree—just like felonies.
However, misdemeanors do not carry as severe penalties, as shown below:
- A first-degree misdemeanor conviction may result in 2.5 to 5 years behind bars and a fine of up to $10,000.
- A 2nd-degree misdemeanor could mean 1 to 2 years of incarceration and fines reaching $5,000.
- A 3rd-degree misdemeanor may still lead to 6 months to 1 year behind bars and fines up to $2,500 if convicted.
As with felony charges, the exact penalties could differ based on the facts of the case.
Common Wobblers in Pennsylvania
Certain types of crimes tend to fall under the wobbler category more often than others. Some of these include the following.
Theft is defined as taking another person’s property without their permission and with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. This could include physical items such as cash, jewelry, electronics, or other types of property.
It also includes intangible items like services or trade secrets. Depending on the value and type of item stolen, theft can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony in Pennsylvania.
Felony theft is usually charged if the stolen item has a value of over $2,000 or in cases when specific conditions are met, such as stealing an automobile.
Driving Under The Influence
For example, a person may face felony charges if they have three prior DUI convictions within a span of ten years.
The penalties associated with a felony DUI conviction vary depending on the severity of the crime and any other related offenses that were committed at the time of the arrest. Generally speaking, however, individuals convicted of third-degree felony DUIs can face up to 7 years in prison and significant fines.
They will also have their license suspended or revoked for significant periods and may be required to attend regular counseling sessions or perform community service hours as part of their sentence.
The Potential Collateral Consequences of a Felony Conviction in Pennsylvania
A felony conviction in Pennsylvania can have a life-altering impact. While some potential consequences may be obvious, such as the possibility of jail time and hefty fines, there are other collateral consequences you may not consider.
Restrictions on Employment Opportunities
A criminal record can make it difficult to get hired for certain jobs or volunteer positions. Depending on the crime committed, employers may be hesitant to hire someone with a felony conviction. Some jobs will never hire someone with a felony conviction, severely limiting job opportunities.
Loss of Gun Rights/Ownership
Under Pennsylvania law, individuals convicted of felonies (and certain misdemeanors) are prohibited from owning firearms.
Contact a West Chester Criminal Defense Attorney for Help With Your Wobbler Charges
It is critical for anyone facing criminal charges in Pennsylvania to understand what their potential punishments might be should they be found guilty. For help with a criminal charge, contact DiCindio Law, LLC, to schedule a free consultation.