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Being a convicted felon carries a heavy burden in our society. It may be hard to get a job. State licensing boards may refuse to certify you and it may be hard to even rent an apartment of house. You can’t own or possess firearms. But there is hope. Even if you’re a convicted felon, it may be possible to reduce your felony to a misdemeanor.
In the article below, former prosecutors explain the process in California for a felony reduction to a misdemeanor, and what it can do for you…
This type of judicial relief offers several benefits. Some of the most common include (but are not limited to):
California Penal Code 17(b) PC establishes two requirements for reducing a felony conviction to a misdemeanor: (1) the underlying offense must be a wobbler, and (2) probation must have been granted.
What are wobblers?
The first requirement is that the offense must be what we call a wobbler. Under California law, a “wobbler” is an offense that can be charged and punished as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The list of wobblers is too numerous to detail here but includes such common crimes as:
Only felonies that are classified as wobblers may be reduced to misdemeanors. “Straight” felonies (ones which can only be prosecuted as felonies) are therefore not eligible for a misdemeanor reduction.
The second requirement is that you must have been granted probation in connection with your felony conviction. If the court denied probation (or you violated your probation), and you were sentenced to serve time in the California State Prison, you are not eligible for a reduction (or, unfortunately, an expungement). Serving time in a county jail is okay and does not affect your eligibility.
In order for you to reduce your felony conviction to a misdemeanor, both of these requirements must be satisfied. This means that even if your offense was a wobbler, but you served time in the state prison, you are ineligible for this relief.
The judge can reduce a “wobbler” felony to a misdemeanor at the conclusion of the preliminary hearing or at the time of felony sentencing in a California case.
If you’ve already been sentenced and are currently serving felony probation, our California expungement lawyers can petition the court to reduce your conviction at the conclusion of your probation. In some instances, we may even be able to help you obtain an early termination of your probation in order to expedite this process. If you’re already completed your probation, we can ask the court to reduce your felony at any time.
There are a variety of factors that the judge takes into consideration when deciding whether to grant this relief. These factors include:
Sometimes the prosecutor will argue that the conviction should not be reduced, a position which the judge may or may not consider. Other times, if the prosecutor doesn’t object, he/she may simply remain silent on the issue.
California expungement law traditionally relieves you of all “penalties and disabilities” associated with your criminal conviction.
These are the benefits of an expungement and generally the ultimate goal when asking the court to terminate your probation or reduce a felony to a misdemeanor. And while it is possible to expunge a felony conviction without first reducing it to a misdemeanor, an “expunged misdemeanor” is better than an “expunged felony” because it preserves certain rights and benefits that can be denied to an ex-felon, the right to possess firearms, for example.
Yes, although they are limited. These include (but are not necessarily limited to):
Absent the above exceptions, the good news is that a Penal Code 17(b) felony reduction is considered a misdemeanor conviction “for all purposes”. This means that a reduced felony cannot act as a “prior” crime for a future offense that requires a predicate (that is, preexisting) felony conviction.
Please call me if you are considering having a felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor. I charge reasonable rates and my success records is quite good.
CRIMINAL RECORD REPAIR SERVICE
Criminal defense lawyer Kenneth J. Pinto is skilled and experienced in the preparation and argument of post-conviction criminal defense motions before the court. He works hard for you and is a competent and well versed professional in the courtroom.
Law Offices of Kenneth J. Pinto
Criminal Record Repair Service
Call us at: (408) 289-1765