A person convicted of a felony in California can be reduced to a misdemeanor. California law provides specific guidance on when reductions are possible.
By law, some crimes committed in California can only be charged with serious crimes. Some may be wrongdoing. But some crimes can be charged with both a serious crime and an offense, depending on the circumstances of the crime.
These offenses are known as wobbler offenses. If you have been convicted of a crime that can only be charged with a felony, you are not eligible to have your offense reduced to a misdemeanor. But if you have been convicted of a wobbler-related felony, under certain circumstances your felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor.
California Penal Code 17 (b) describes when a wobbler offense is considered a misdemeanor. This section partly states that an offense is misdemeanor if the court orders probation and (1) at that time declares the offense as misdemeanor or (2) declares the offense as misdemeanor at the request of the accused or the probation officer.
In other words, two requirements must be satisfied before the offender can file an application for the reduction of a felony to misdemeanor: first, the violation must have been a wobbler violation, and second, the court should have appointed a probationary period.
If a court imposes imprisonment in a state jail or county jail under the California Public Security Restructuring Initiative (Penal Code 1170 (h)), even if the sentence is suspended, the felony cannot be reduced. However, imposing a district jail sentence that does not fall under Penal Code 1170 (h) in addition to probation does not preclude a criminal offense from being reduced to misdemeanor.
Violations that are violations of the wobbler
The first requirement for reducing a serious crime to a misdemeanor is that the accused offense is a wobbler. There are many violations that qualify as wobblers. Some of the more commonly accused wobbler crimes include:
Burglary (Penal Code 459) Major theft (Penal Code (Penal Code 487) Assault with Lethal Weapon (Penal Code 245 (a) (1)) Unintentional Homicide (Penal Code 192 (c) (1)) Criminal Threats offense (Penal Code 422) Spousal assault (Penal Code 273.5) Sexual assault and indecent acts with minors (Penal Code 243.4 PC and Penal Code 288) Fraud Unlawful sexual intercourse (Penal Code 261.5 (c) and (d))
* Note: Determining whether a violation is a wobbler violation requires careful analysis of the law defining the violation. Before applying for a felony reduction to misdemeanor, consult with an experienced attorney to make sure you qualify.
The procedure for reducing a grave crime to a misdemeanor
A magistrate judge may reduce a felony charge to a misdemeanor under Penal Code 17 (b) (5) before, during, or after a preliminary hearing, which is a hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for the accused to respond to him or her. felony charges. The court may also independently reduce the misdemeanor charge under Penal Code 17 (b) (3) at the time of sentencing, when he or she imposes a probationary period.
If the court does not reduce the charge on its own, the accused or the probation officer may ask the court to reduce the charge. An application permitted by Penal Code 17 (b) (3) may be filed Anytime after the court appoints a probationary period and does not depend on the statement of the defendant; that is, a confession of guilt or the absence of a claimant for a serious crime does not prevent the accused from seeking to reduce this crime to a misdemeanor. The accused may apply even before the end of the probationary period, or may file years after the expiration of the probationary period.
After filing an application under Penal Code 17 (b) (3), the court will hold a hearing to determine whether to reduce the felony charge to a misdemeanor. The reduction is discretionary. Factors that the court takes into account include the criminal and personal background of the defendant, the nature of the accused offense, the circumstances of the case, adherence to the probationary period, general principles of sentencing, and the public interest. The prosecutor may object to the application or cannot object to it. If the judge reduces the offense to a misdemeanor, the prosecutor cannot appeal.
Consequences of reducing a grave crime to a misdemeanor
Many benefits come with a reduction in felony to misdemeanor. The offender is prohibited from obtaining certain state licenses, but if the felony is reduced, the defendant can obtain such a license.
Downsizing helps in employment and loan opportunities as the defendant can honestly state that he or she has never been convicted of a felony. The right to be a member of the jury has been restored. In some cases, reducing a criminal offense to a misdemeanor restores the defendant’s gun rights.
But the reduction does not negate all the consequences of a felony conviction. If the crime was serious or violent, the conviction will still count. “strike” for the purposes of the California Three Strikes Act. This does not change the obligation register as a sex offender… This cut does not prevent the federal government from classifying a conviction as a felony for purposes of federal firearms laws.
If you have been convicted of a wobbler crime in California and sentenced to probation, you have the right to apply for a misdemeanor reduction of that felony. The decision to reduce the felony remains at the discretion of the court, and the timing and content of the statement are important in persuading the court to make the reduction. Obtaining such a reduction has significant benefits for the defendant.
Most counties have forms that must be completed for petition 17 (b) (3) of the Criminal Code, but such generic forms may not be appropriate for every situation in which the accused is trying to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor. To make the most of your right to file an application, consult with an experienced competent lawyer who will submit the application for you.