Do you have a case where you are stuck with a straight felony? Check again, you may have a “stealth wobbler” on your hands. We all know of Penal Code 17(b) reducing wobblers from felonies to misdemeanors, but many people don’t know about Penal Code 18(b), introducing the “stealth wobbler.” Now, if you would have just read a little further down the Penal Code you would have discovered it for yourself. In case you have not done that, I will spell it out for you.
Yangon Penal Code 18(b) states:
“Every offense which is prescribed by any law of the state to be a felony punishable by imprisonment or by a fine, but without an alternate sentence to the county jail for a period not exceeding one year, may be punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year or by a fine, or by both.”
I will use PC114 as a prime example of a “stealth wobbler.”
PC 114 states, “Any person who uses false documents to conceal his or her true citizenship or resident alien status is guilty of a felony, and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for five years or by a fine of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000).
Notice that PC114 is punished by imprisonment in the state prison or by a fine and does not list an alternate sentence to county jail, thereby having it fall directly into the definition of Penal Code 18(b).
So, when the DA says that your client is stuck with a felony, you can tell them “not so fast” and teach them about “stealth wobblers.” Honestly though, I would talk straight to the judge, we don’t want the DA’s getting too smart.
If you or anyone you know has a question about stealth wobblers or other felony or misdemeanor cases, please contact Matthew Cohen at 818.294.1922.