"Wobblers" in Nevada Law (NRS 193.330)
(Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys)

Wobbler crimes in Nevada are attempts to commit a category C felony, category D felony, or category E felony. The judge determines whether to treat wobblers as either a felony or a gross misdemeanor.

While any criminal conviction is never good news, gross misdemeanors are much better than felonies in Nevada. Gross misdemeanors carry less of a social stigma, have laxer punishments, and can be sealed years before felony criminal records can (in most cases).

Anyone accused of a wobbler crime is entitled to a trial by jury. Depending on the nature of the offense, a wobbler conviction can cause an immigrant defendant to get deported.

In this article our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions on what wobblers are and how they can help defendants achieve reduced charges and laxer penalties. Click on a topic to go to that section:

  1. What are "wobblers" in Nevada?
  2. What are the penalties for "wobblers" in Nevada?
  3. How do defendants get "wobbler" offenses reduced to gross misdemeanors in Nevada?
  4. Can I get a jury trial for a wobbler charge in Nevada?
  5. Can I get a wobbler sealed in Nevada?
  6. Can a wobbler get me deported?
Courtroom
Judges decide whether "wobbler" crimes in Nevada are punished as felonies or gross misdemeanors.

1) What are "wobblers" in Nevada?

Wobblers are a class of Nevada offenses where a person allegedly attempts to commit a category C, D, or E felony.

Like it sounds, an attempt crime is taking decisive actions in furtherance of criminal activity but falling short of carrying it out. For example, a drug dealer who verbally agrees to sell someone Xanax can be prosecuted for attempted drug selling even if the buyer backs out last minute.

Wobblers get their name because Nevada judges have the discretion to treat them as either a felony or a gross misdemeanor. Felonies are the most serious class of Nevada crime, while gross misdemeanors are the next less serious. (The least serious Nevada offenses are misdemeanors, though no wobblers may become misdemeanors.)

Some of the most common wobbler crimes include:

2) What are the penalties for "wobblers" in Nevada?

Wobbler punishments in Nevada vary depending on whether the defendant was accused of attempting a category C, D or E felony.

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Wobblers crimes in Nevada are defined as attempting to commit a category C, D, or E felony.

Category C felonies in Nevada:

People charged with attempting to commit a category C crime in Nevada may be convicted of either a category D felony or a gross misdemeanor. Category D felonies carry:

Gross misdemeanors carry:

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines.

Category D felonies in Nevada:

People charged with attempting to commit a category D crime in Nevada may be convicted of either a category E felony or a gross misdemeanor. Category E felonies are usually probationable but can carry:

  • 1 - 4 years in prison,and
  • possibly up to $5,000 in fines

Gross misdemeanors carry:

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines.

Category E felonies in Nevada:

People charged with attempting to commit a category E crime in Nevada may be convicted of either a category E felony or a gross misdemeanor. Category E felonies are usually probationable but can carry:

  • 1 - 4 years in prison, and
  • possibly up to $5,000 in fines.

Gross misdemeanors carry:

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines.

In sum

In short, wobblers are punished either as a category D felony, category E felony, or as a gross misdemeanor. Henderson criminal defense attorney Michael Becker gives an example of how this works.

Example: Alex gets charged in Las Vegas Justice Court with attempting to sell Ambien (a category C felony), attempting to possess Ambien for the purpose of selling it (a category D felony), and attempting to possess Ambien (a category E felony). Since Alex is accused of attempted these three drug crimes without succeeding, his charges are considered "wobblers."

Since selling Ambien is a category C felony, the judge may treat it as either a category D felony or as a gross misdemeanor. Since possessing Ambien for sale is a category D felony, the judge may treat it as either a category E felony or as a gross misdemeanor. And since selling Ambien is a category E felony, the judge may treat it as either a category E felony or as a gross misdemeanor.

Since Alex has no past criminal record and appears remorseful, the judge gives him a break and treats them all as gross misdemeanors. So in the end, Alex is convicted for three gross misdemeanors and faces up to 1,092 days in jail and/or up to $6,000 in fines (which is three times the penalty for a single gross misdemeanor).

If Alex in the above example had a lengthy criminal history prior to this case, the judge may not be so generous and instead insist he face a category D sentence for selling Ambien and category E sentences for possessing the Ambien for sale and for personal use.

3) How do defendants get "wobbler" offenses reduced to gross misdemeanors in Nevada?

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Prosecutors and defense attorneys may agree that a wobbler can be reduced to a gross misdemeanor as part of a plea deal in Nevada.

Nevada judges have discretion over whether a wobbler crime is treated as a felony or a gross misdemeanor. The defense attorney's job is to convince the judge that the defendant is worthy of the lower sentence.

In making the case for a gross misdemeanor sentence, the defense attorney often highlights the following (if applicable):

  • The defendant's lack of a criminal history,
  • The defendant's poor physical or mental health,
  • The defendant's positive contributions to the community, and/or
  • The defendant's remorse

In many cases, the defense attorney can negotiate with the prosecution ahead of time to craft a plea deal that ends with the defendant getting a gross misdemeanor conviction instead of a felony conviction. As long as the defense attorney and prosecution agree, it is likely the Nevada judge will rubber stamp it during the Nevada sentencing hearing.

4) Can I get a jury trial for a wobbler?

 Yes. Anyone charged with a wobbler crime is entitled to a jury trial or a bench trial.

5) Can I get a wobbler sealed in Nevada?

If and when a wobbler criminal record can be sealed in Nevada depends on the category of crime.

  • A category D felony conviction may be sealed twelve (12) years after the case closes.
  • A category E felony conviction may be sealed seven (7) years after the case closes.
  • A gross misdemeanor conviction may be sealed 5 (five) years after the case closes.

Note that some crimes can never be sealed, including:

  • Sex crimes
  • Offenses against children
  • DUI felony convictions

Also note that wobbler crimes that result in a dismissal (which means there is no conviction) can be sealed right away without a waiting period.

6) Can a wobbler get me deported?

Perhaps. Aliens in Nevada risk being removed from the U.S. if they get convicted of an aggravated felony or crime involving moral turpitude. Examples of wobblers that are deportable include:

Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

Arrested in Nevada? Call an attorney...

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Call 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a criminal defense attorney.

If you are facing felony charges in Nevada, call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a FREE consultation. We may be able to get it reduced to a gross misdemeanor, a misdemeanor, or we may even be able to win a full dismissal of the charge without a trial.

For information on wobblers in California law, see our page on wobblers in California law.

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