The power of reduction
Turn a felony into a misdemeanor
A felony reduction refers to the process of turning what was a felony conviction into a misdemeanor conviction.
The felony becomes reduced for all purposes to a misdemeanor and eliminates all consequences that come with the stigma of being a “convicted felon” in California. Like an expungement, reducing a felony to a misdemeanor can help immensely in obtaining new jobs, housing opportunities, professional licensing, and in some cases, possibly restoring your gun rights. There are several legal mechanisms to reduce your felony conviction in California. The best reduction statute is that of Penal Code section 17, subdivision (b). (There is also Proposition 47, which reduces certain felony drug and theft offenses to a misdemeanor, as well as Proposition 64, which can reduce certain felony marijuana conviction). Depending on certain circumstances of your case, Let Go Legal will find the appropriate vehicle to reduce your felony to a misdemeanor. There are two requirements for relief under Penal Code section 17, subdivision (b). You must have been charged with a “wobbler” and the court must have granted you probation.
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What Is a Wobbler?
Generally, a misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by up to one year, whereas a felony is a crime that is punishable by more than one year. In California, however, there is a special category of crimes that are punishable as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the severity of the facts surrounding its commission. These crimes are referred to as “wobblers.”
Wobblers may be punished by either a state prison sentence or by imprisonment in county jail and/or by a fine. Accordingly, if your felony was a “wobbler,” in California, you can reduce this felony to a misdemeanor. But if you were charged with a straight felony (i.e. those offenses that can only be charged as a felony), you are not eligible for felony reduction relief. Many offenses listed in California’s Penal Code—as well as other code sections such as the Health and Safety Code, Business Profession Code, Vehicle Code, and Family Law Code—are designated as wobblers. Sometimes, detecting a wobbler is fairly easy. If a statute contains language that the crime “is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170,” the crime is considered a wobbler because it can be charged as a misdemeanor (i.e. by a fine or time in the county jail) or as a felony (i.e. imprisonment).
Many offenses listed in California’s Penal Code—as well as other code sections such as the Health and Safety Code, Business Profession Code, Vehicle Code, and Family Law Code—are designated as wobblers. Sometimes, detecting a wobbler is fairly easy. If a statute contains language that the crime “is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170,” the crime is considered a wobbler because it can be charged as a misdemeanor (i.e. by a fine or time in the county jail) or as a felony (i.e. imprisonment).
Example #1: Johnny was convicted of felony grand theft. At sentencing, the court sentenced Johnny to prison. Johnny’s felony lost its “wobbler” status as a result of being sent to prison.
Example #2: Johnny was convicted of felony grand theft. At sentencing, the court sentenced Johnny to probation. Johnny violated his probation and as a result, the court terminated his probation and sentenced him to state prison. Johnny’s felony lost its “wobbler” status as a result of being sent to prison.
Example #3: Johnny was convicted of felony grand theft. At sentencing, the court sentenced Johnny to probation. Johnny successfully completed his probation with no violations. Johnny’s felony would retain its “wobbler” status and be eligible for a felony reduction.
Who Qualifies For a Felony Reduction?
If you were charged with a wobbler offense, then the court must have granted you probation in order to obtain felony reduction relief. If you were charged with a felony wobbler and were sentenced to state prison, then the offense remains a felony for all purposes. Even if you received a suspended prison sentence, you cannot reduce your conviction using Penal Code section 17, subdivision (b). (Don’t worry, you may be able to reduce this through Proposition 47 or Proposition 64, and may even be able to expunge this.)
If you were charged with a felony and sentenced to a punishment other than state prison (i.e. probation), then the offense may be reduced to a misdemeanor. This is so even if you must serve time in county jail as a condition of your probation. The court’s ability to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor after probation has been granted serves as both a motivation and reward for a petitioner to comply with probation conditions. This is why it is important to have all fines and court-ordered classes or programs competed before applying for relief. The court is inclined to reward a convicted felon this relief when the petitioner demonstrates their rehabilitation.
How Do I Get Started?
The process for a felony reduction pursuant to Penal Code section 17, subdivision (b), is similar to other forms of post conviction relief. Let Go Legal starts with a preliminary case evaluation to determine whether you qualify for relief. If we determine during our initial assessment that you qualify for relief, we will then obtain all requisite documents on your behalf to confirm that you are eligible for felony reduction relief. There is nothing you need to do except reach out.
After confirming your eligibility, we draft the felony reduction motion. Let Go Legal then will file the motion with the court and set a hearing date. We will then have the motion served on the district attorney and the probation department. Unlike an expungement, the probation department’s pre-sentence report does not always opine on whether the petitioner should be granted relief. Probation generally only opines on whether the petitioner’s conviction should be expunged and dismissed. But the pre-sentence report is still valuable because they may inform the court of unfulfilled conditions (i.e. restitution, required classes) that have not been completed.
At the hearing, the court has discretion to grant or deny the petitioner’s relief. The court will look at factors such as
(1) the nature and circumstance of the offense,
(2) whether the petitioner has made significant strides in life since their conviction,
(3) whether the petitioner completed all terms of their probation, including paying fines, if any,
(4) the petitioner’s criminal record, and
(5) any other factor the court may deem relevant.
Let Go Legal will appear on your behalf at the hearing to argue to the court that they should exercise their discretion and reduce your felony conviction to a misdemeanor. Although your presence is not required, we highly encourage you to attend the hearing.
Allow Let Go Legal help you let go of your past and move forward in life. We handle all matters on your behalf starting with our initial consultation. There is no cost to determine whether you are eligible for relief. We will gather the requisite documents on your behalf, draft and file your petition, and appear on your behalf in court to obtain the relief you need. Our flat fee prices include everything. There are no hidden costs. Don’t wait any longer. Start the process today and see if you qualify for relief.
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Reasons to Reduce Your Felony to a Misdemeanor.
Having a felony conviction brings negative repurcusssions to ones life. But a felony reduction can help alleviate the consequences of a felony conviction.
A conviction for any felony renders you unable to bear and keeep arms. But a felony reduction may be able to restore your gun rights which would allow you to bear and keep arms again.
A felony conviction can bar you from obtaining better employment for you and your family when you are otherwise eligible. Reducing a felony to a misdemeanor will allow you to honestly state on a job application you were never convicted of a felony. This will greatly improve your chances of obtaining better employment for you and your family.
A felony conviction can prohibit you from obtaining certain professional licenses, or can even cause you to lose your professional license. Nurses, attorneys, pharmacist, doctors, and dentists, are some of the careers where a felony conviction can cause isssues if not reduced to a misdemeanor.
Even if you want to honorably serve in the military, a felony convction will prohibt you from enlisting. However, by reducing that felony conviction to a misdemeanor, you greatly improve the chances of being able to enlist and serve.
Having a felony conviction may bar you from obtaining housing for you and your family when you otherwise would have been quallified for. Reducing your felony to a misdemeanor will allow you to honestly declare you have never beeen convicted of a felony when applying for housing. This greatly increases your chances of obtaining better housing for you and your family.