Esteybar Motion Law and Legal Definition

Esteybar motion is a motion that is filed to reduce a wobbler to a misdemeanor. Wobbler refers to a criminal offense that can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. It “wobbles” between these two categories of offenses.

The motion gets its name from the Californian case Esteybar v. Municipal Court for Long Beach Judicial Dist., 5 Cal. 3d 119 (Cal. 1971), where the petitioner was charged with possession of marijuana, an offense which could have been treated as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The court granted a writ of mandate issue to compel the municipal court to proceed upon the case as though petitioner had been arraigned on a misdemeanor because the requirement that the prosecutor consent before respondent could exercise the power to determine that a charged offense was to be tried as a misdemeanor was a violation of the separation of powers doctrine.