Motions to Reduce Felony Convictions to Misdemeanors

REDUCTION TO A MISDEMEANOR

Penal Code section 17(b)(3) allows the court to exercise discretion to reduce some eligible felonies to misdemeanors. 

 

 What Offenses Are Eligible to Be Reduced?

 What can the judge consider when deciding to recude felony to a misdemeanor?

 What is the benefit to having felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors?

 

 

What Offenses Are Eligible to Be Reduced?

Not all felonies can be reduced to misdemeanors. A charge can only be reduced if the felony is a wobbler, meaning it could have originally been charged as a felony or misdemeanor.

In addition to being a wobbler, the following criteria needs to be met:

1)      The crime is punishable either by going to state prison or local prison OR by a fine and punishment in county jail and probation; AND

2)      The person was sentenced to probation (or county jail and probation); AND

3)      The person was never ordered to serve time in state prison or local prison after a probation revocation.

If a person served time in local prison or state prison for the offense, they are not eligible to have that charge reduced to a misdemeanor.  The Fresh Start Attorneys will let their clients know if there is an offense that is eligible for a reduction to a misdemeanor.

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What can the judge consider when deciding to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor?

Just because a charge is a wobbler, does not mean a judge will reduce the felony to a misdemeanor. In deciding whether to reduce the charge, the court can consider a variety of factors, including:

(1)    The nature of the offense,

(2)    The underlying facts of the case,

(3)    Criminal history,

(4)    Probation performance,

(5)    Post-probation behavior,

(6)    Efforts at rehabilitation,

(7)    Longevity and duration of rehabilitation.

If you are seeking a reduction, it is helpful to provide your attorney with exhibits that demonstrate your rehabilitative efforts and the factors listed above. These exhibits can include letters of recommendation from family and friends, photos, proof of probation compliance, proof of employment, diplomas, proof of school enrollment, etc.

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What is the benefit to having felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors?

A felony conviction can be a significant barrier to many opportunities. People with a felony on their record can be ineligible for opportunities relating to housing, volunteering, and jobs, as well as many other opportunities. While California has been proactive in restoring rights to people convicted of felonies, such as the right to vote and, for many people, the right to sit on a jury, felonies can still be a big barrier.

Many Fresh Start clients are concerned about their second amendment rights. In some cases, but not all, a reduction to a misdemeanor may reinstate a person’s second amendment right to bear firearms.   

The Fresh Start Attorneys will let their clients know if a reduction to a misdemeanor will reinstate a client’s Second Amendment Right.

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