Hybrid offence
A hybrid offence, dual offence, Crown option offence, dual procedure offence, or wobbler are the special class offences in the common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 jurisdictions where the case may be prosecuted either summarily or as indictment. In the United States, an alternative misdemeanor/felony offense (colloquially known as a wobbler) lists both county jail (misdemeanor
A misdemeanor is a "lesser" criminal act in many common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished much less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions and regulatory offences...

 sentence) and state prison (felony
A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

 sentence) as possible punishment.


The power to choose under which class a hybrid offence will be tried rests with the crown counsel. Hybrid offences can either be summary offences (minor crimes) or indictable offence
Indictable offence
In many common law jurisdictions , an indictable offence is an offence which can only be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is a prima facie case to answer or by a grand jury...

s (major crimes). For most indictable offences, a person has the right to trial by jury
Trial by Jury
Trial by Jury is a comic opera in one act, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It was first produced on 25 March 1875, at London's Royalty Theatre, where it initially ran for 131 performances and was considered a hit, receiving critical praise and outrunning its...


England and Wales

In relation to England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

, the expression "offence triable either way" means an offence, other than an offence triable on indictment
An indictment , in the common-law legal system, is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. In jurisdictions that maintain the concept of felonies, the serious criminal offence is a felony; jurisdictions that lack the concept of felonies often use that of an indictable offence—an...

 only by virtue of Part V of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which, if committed by an adult, is triable either on indictment or summarily; and the term "triable either way", in its application to offences, is to be construed accordingly. In this definition, references to the ways in which an offence is triable are to be construed without regard to the effect, if any, of section 22 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980
Magistrates' Courts Act 1980
The Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It codifies the procedures applicable in magistrates' courts in the United Kingdom and largely replaces the Magistrates' Courts Act 1952...

 on the mode of trial in a particular case.

In English criminal law
English criminal law
English criminal law refers to the body of law in the jurisdiction of England and Wales which deals with crimes and their consequences. Criminal acts are considered offences against the whole of a community...

 a hybrid offence is called a "triable-either-way offence" and can be heard at either the Magistrates' Court
Magistrates' Court
A magistrates' court or court of petty sessions, formerly known as a police court, is the lowest level of court in England and Wales and many other common law jurisdictions...

 or Crown Court
Crown Court
The Crown Court of England and Wales is, together with the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal, one of the constituent parts of the Senior Courts of England and Wales...

. The decision as to which court will hear the case is determined at a Mode of Trial hearing.

The magistrates decide if the case is suitable to be heard in the Magistrates' Court. If they decide that the case is either too serious or too complex, they can send the case to the Crown Court in which case the defendant has no say in the matter. If the magistrates decide that the case is suitable to be heard by them then the defendant is asked for consent to do so. The defendant can then either consent to be tried by the magistrates or opt for trial by jury at the Crown Court
Crown Court
The Crown Court of England and Wales is, together with the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal, one of the constituent parts of the Senior Courts of England and Wales...

 provided that they have pleaded not guilty. If they have pleaded guilty then they have no say in the matter - thus there is no way for a defendant to agree to plead guilty in exchange for having a case dealt with by magistrates.

If the defendant is tried summarily in the Magistrates' Court and is convicted, there may still be a committal to the Crown Court for sentencing if the magistrates think that their sentencing powers are inadequate.


The expression "hybrid offence" was applicable to an offence triable either on indictment or summarily. It was applicable to offences to which section 18 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1952
Magistrates' Courts Act 1952
The Magistrates' Courts Act 1952 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which related to magistrates' courts...


See sections 14(c) and 64 of the Criminal Law Act 1977
Criminal Law Act 1977
The Criminal Law Act 1977 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Most of it only applies to England and Wales. It is mainly significant because it defines the offence of conspiracy in English law...



In Scots law
Scots law
Scots law is the legal system of Scotland. It is considered a hybrid or mixed legal system as it traces its roots to a number of different historical sources. With English law and Northern Irish law it forms the legal system of the United Kingdom; it shares with the two other systems some...

, all common law offences other than those within the exclusive jurisdiction of the High Court of Justiciary
High Court of Justiciary
The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court of Scotland.The High Court is both a court of first instance and a court of appeal. As a court of first instance, the High Court sits mainly in Parliament House, or in the former Sheriff Court building, in Edinburgh, but also sits from time...

 (ie murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

, treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

, rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

 and breach of duty by magistrates) can be tried either summarily in the District Courts of Scotland
District Courts of Scotland
A District Court was the least authoritative type of criminal court in Scotland. The court operated under summary procedure and dealt primarily with minor criminal offences...

 (including justice of the peace
Justice of the Peace
A justice of the peace is a puisne judicial officer elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions...

 courts) or Sheriff Court
Sheriff Court
Sheriff courts provide the local court service in Scotland, with each court serving a sheriff court district within a sheriffdom.Sheriff courts deal with a myriad of legal procedures which include:*Solemn and Summary Criminal cases...

s, or on indictment in the High Court of Justiciary or Sheriff Court. For statutory offences, the statute will provide whether the offence is triable summarily, on indictment, or both.

The choice of forum is a matter for the Lord Advocate
Lord Advocate
Her Majesty's Advocate , known as the Lord Advocate , is the chief legal officer of the Scottish Government and the Crown in Scotland for both civil and criminal matters that fall within the devolved powers of the Scottish Parliament...

 and procurator fiscal
Procurator Fiscal
A procurator fiscal is a public prosecutor in Scotland. They investigate all sudden and suspicious deaths in Scotland , conduct Fatal Accident Inquiries and handle criminal complaints against the police A procurator fiscal (pl. procurators fiscal) is a public prosecutor in Scotland. They...

, and is determined in a process known as marking.

United States

In U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

s which have these offenses, the prosecuting attorney has discretion in deciding which category to charge the defendant. Prosecutors may strategically file such offenses as felonies, agreeing to refile the charge as a misdemeanor should the defendant consent to a guilty plea.

After hearing evidence at a preliminary hearing
Preliminary hearing
Within some criminal justice systems, a preliminary hearing is a proceeding, after a criminal complaint has been filed by the prosecutor, to determine whether there is enough evidence to require a trial...

, the judge or magistrate has discretion to reduce a felony wobbler to a misdemeanor charge; the opposite is not permitted.

In juvenile court
Juvenile court
A juvenile court is a tribunal having special authority to try and pass judgments for crimes committed by children or adolescents who have not attained the age of majority...

, after a minor is declared to be delinquent following a bench trial or open plea, the judge may classify a wobbler felony as a misdemeanor instead.


In California, one example of a wobbler offense is grand theft (PC487). In this case, the judge has the power to reduce a felony charge of this type to a misdemeanor during various stages of the proceeding, including the preliminary hearing all the way until after a defendant completes probation.
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