The difference between a misdemeanor offense and a felony offense is significant in Oklahoma. Misdemeanors usually carry less severe penalties than felonies, with a maximum punishment of no more than one year in county jail plus a fine. In contrast, a felony conviction is any offense that is punishable by one year or more, to be served in a federal or state prison.
In Oklahoma, misdemeanors include crimes such as:
- Assault (simple)
- Breaking and Entering
- DUI, DWI, and APC
- Possession of Marijuana
- Petit Larceny
Here are some examples of felony offenses in Oklahoma:
- Sexual Assault
- Aggravated Assault
- Child Abuse or Neglect
- Child Sexual Abuse
- Child Pornography
- Drug Possession with Intent to Distribute
- Drug Trafficking
The Grey Line Between Misdemeanors and Felonies
Distinguishing between a felony and a misdemeanor is not always easy, since some offenses can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on how the prosecutor views the circumstances of the offense. For example, simple assault is a misdemeanor. However, if assault results in a serious bodily injury against another person, or if the victim is elderly or incapacitated, assault could be elevated to Aggravated Assault and Battery, which is a felony. The difference in penalties is significant; simple assault is punishable by not more than 12 months in jail, whereas Aggravated Assault and Battery is punishable by a maximum of five years in state prison, even on a first offense. Another example is the crime of petit larceny or theft. Theft of property that has a value of less than $500 is classified as a misdemeanor, but theft of property with a value of over $500 can be classified as a felony. Prosecutors will seek to increase the value of property, while a good defense lawyer will present evidence that the value of the property is less than $500.
Since these offenses can be either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances, lawyers often refer to them as "wobblers." Prosecutors typically overcharge defendants in wobbler cases. This makes it imperative that a person charged with a crime has a highly skilled attorney who can argue that the charge should be reduced to a less serious misdemeanor.
Reducing a "Wobbler" Felony to a Misdemeanor
One of the most common questions criminal defendants have is whether a wobbler felony offense can be reduced to a less serious charge. A good attorney can reduce the charges by intervening with the prosecutor early on in the case to reduce the charges to a misdemeanor. The earlier an Oklahoma criminal defense lawyer intervenes on your behalf, the better chance you will have at resolving a wobbler offense to a misdemeanor. If the circumstances warrant, you may even have the charge dropped altogether. Whether a charge can be reduced depends on many factors, like the circumstances of the offense, whether anyone was injured, the defendant's criminal history, and whether the person has demonstrated good behavior in the past.
Call an Experienced, Aggressive Oklahoma Criminal Lawyer
If you have been charged with a felony, do not wait to retain counsel. Call a competent, experienced Oklahoma criminal lawyer immediately. To speak with an aggressive criminal defense attorney, contact our law firm today, or call 405-542-2529 (542-CLAW) and one of our Oklahoma criminal defense attorneys will speak with you about the charges against you. Read more about our team, or continue reading and researching our free legal information library, or enter live chat.