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Reducing a Felony to a Misdemeanor

Reduce Your Criminal Charges With a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney

Over 25 Years of Helping People Reduce Felony Convictions to Misdemeanors

What Is Penal Code Section 17(b)?

When Californians passed Proposition 47 reducing sentences for many crimes, it opened the door to allow people who were charged with certain felonies to reduce their charge to a misdemeanor. Some California crimes can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. Under California Penal Code Section 17(b), someone who was convicted of a felony instead of a misdemeanor can have their conviction reduced to a misdemeanor. Once the conviction has been reduced to a misdemeanor, they can petition a court to expunge their record.

Reducing a felony conviction to a misdemeanor can have significant benefits for individuals who are seeking to move on from their past mistakes. It can open up job opportunities, allow for the restoration of certain civil rights, and gun rights, and improve one's reputation in the community. This law gives people the freedom to move forward with their lives more positively and productively.

Don't let a felony conviction define you. To determine whether your conviction is eligible for a 17b reduction, consult with a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. Contact the Law Firm of William S. Kroger at 323-655-5700 for a free case consultation.

Which Felonies Can Be Reduced to Misdemeanors in California?

Certain drug-related and theft-related offenses can be reduced to misdemeanors unless the offenses were committed by certain ineligible defendants. Any crime that could be prosecuted or charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor is eligible to be reduced to a misdemeanor. These types of crimes are known as wobblers. With the help of a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, you can petition the court to reduce your felony to a misdemeanor under California law.

The advantage of having a crime classified as a misdemeanor would be the ability to own a firearm, retain a professional license, or not be impeached in a civil proceeding.

The following are some examples of felony crimes that can be reduced to misdemeanors:

  • Theft
  • Drug possession
  • Shoplifting
  • Check fraud
  • Possession of stolen goods
  • Credit card fraud
  • Forgery

Who Is Eligible for a Felony Reduction?

In California, a person convicted of a felony offense may be eligible for a reduction to a misdemeanor under Penal Code 17(b). However, eligibility for a felony reduction under Section 17(b) depends on several factors, including the specific offense for which the person was convicted and the person's criminal history.

Generally, a person is eligible for a felony reduction under Penal Code § 17(b) if they meet the following criteria:

  1. The person was convicted of a felony offense that is considered a "wobbler" offense, meaning that it can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor.
  2. The person has completed probation or obtained an early termination of probation.
  3. The person has completed all the terms and conditions of their sentence, including any jail or prison time.
  4. The person is not currently serving a sentence for any other offense.
  5. The person is not currently charged with any other offense.

It's important to note that even if a person meets these eligibility criteria, the decision to grant a reduction is ultimately up to the discretion of the court. Additionally, certain offenses, such as serious or violent felonies, are not eligible for a reduction under Penal Code Section 17(b).

What Is the Process to Amend a Felony to a Misdemeanor?

How to Get a Felony Reduced to a Misdemeanor in California

Assuming that you are eligible for a 17(b) reduction, here are the steps you would need to follow:

  1. Complete the necessary paperwork: You will need to complete a Petition for Resentencing under Penal Code Section 1170.18. This form is available on the California courts website or from your attorney.
  2. File the paperwork with the court: Once the paperwork is complete, you will need to file it with the court that handled your original conviction. You will also need to serve a copy of the paperwork to the district attorney's office.
  3. Wait for a hearing date: The court will set a date for a hearing on your petition. You may need to appear in court for the hearing.
  4. Attend the hearing: At the hearing, the court will consider your petition and any objections from the district attorney's office. You may also have an opportunity to speak to the court about why you believe your sentence should be reduced.
  5. Receive a decision: The court will then decide on your petition. If the court grants your petition, your felony conviction will be reduced to a misdemeanor.

It's important to note that even if you are successful in obtaining a 17(b) reduction, your conviction will still be on your record as a misdemeanor until you petition the court to have the misdemeanor charge expunged. Having an expungement can have significant benefits, such as allowing you to apply for certain jobs or licenses that may have been unavailable to you with felony charges or a misdemeanor conviction.

Getting a court to reduce your felony charge to a misdemeanor requires providing evidence of rehabilitation, submitting a petition to the court, and attending a court hearing. Additionally, not all felony convictions are eligible for a reduction, and the decision to grant or deny the request rests solely with the court. It is important to consult with a criminal defense attorney to assess the possibility of reducing a felony to a misdemeanor in California.

Can I Get an Expungement in California?

Once a felony is reduced to a misdemeanor, a court can expunge the conviction. In short, once a petition under Penal Code § 1203.4 is granted, the slate is wiped clean, unless a person with an expunged record commits another crime. One benefit to having your record expunged is that an employer is not allowed to inquire about an expunged offense in California under Labor Code § 432.7.

What Can I Do If I'm Not Eligible to Reduce My Felony Under Penal Code Section 17(b)

If you are not eligible to reduce your felony to a misdemeanor because you were given a sentence to serve time in state prison and not county jail, there is a potential alternative. If you were convicted of a felony under a wobbler, you could ask the court to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor before the sentence is served. In other words, you or your attorney can petition the court for a new sentence. People under California's three-strikes law are eligible as well.

There is some case law on your side, and with that, some hope. An experienced and skilled attorney could argue that a trial court can exercise its authority to change a felony to the alternatively punishable offense of a misdemeanor. This will convert your crime to a misdemeanor, and therefore not subject to state imprisonment. See People v. Hannon.

Are Sex Offenders Eligible to Reduce Felonies to Misdemeanors?

In California, some sex offenses are not eligible for reduction to misdemeanors under Penal Code Section 17(b). For example, offenses that require sex offender registration under Penal Code Section 290, such as rape, lewd acts with a minor, and continuous sexual abuse of a child, are generally not eligible for a reduction.

However, there may be some circumstances where a sex offender could potentially be eligible for a misdemeanor reduction under Section 17(b), depending on the case's specific facts and the court's discretion. The best way to find out is to consult with a qualified criminal defense lawyer who can review the specific details of your case and advise you on potential options for reducing the felony sex offense to a misdemeanor.

If you are required to register as a sex offender, you may still have to register even if a judge reduces the conviction to a misdemeanor. In some cases, a judge may have the discretion to waive or modify the registration requirement based on the specific facts and circumstances of the case.

Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer to Reduce Your Felony Conviction

Number 1 Recommended Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney William S. Kroger

When you've been convicted of certain felonies, there is a way you may be able to petition a court to get the conviction reduced to a lesser charge. When a judge approves your petition, you will no longer have a felony on your record. Getting a reduction of a felony to a misdemeanor will allow you to then expunge your record.

Not having a criminal record will improve your life.

The right attorney can make all the difference in getting a positive outcome. Attorney William Kroger has a 95 percent success rate on the cases he takes. To find out how The Law Firm of William S. Kroger can help you, contact us today by calling 323-655-5700 or by contacting Attorney Kroger online.

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