Reducing a Felony to a Misdemeanor

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In California, certain crimes can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the crime. If you have been charged or convicted of a felony, your attorney may be able to get your charge or conviction reduced under California penal code 17(b). To learn more about reducing a felony to a misdemeanor, speak with an attorney at the Law Office of Scott D. Henry.

What are Wobbler Charges?

A wobbler is a criminal offense that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Only wobblers are eligible for a reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor. To determine whether the original charge is a misdemeanor or felony, the prosecutor will typically look at the individual’s past criminal history, the case’s facts, and whether injuries resulted from the alleged offense. Common wobbler charges are assault with a deadly weapon, domestic violence, vehicular manslaughter, statutory rape, and grand theft.

California Penal Code 17(b)

Under California Penal Code 17(b), a defendant or his or her attorney can file a motion, asking the court to reduce a felony charge or conviction to a misdemeanor. A 17(b) motion can be made at the end of the preliminary hearing, at the time of sentencing, or when felony probation has been completed. The reduction of a felony to a misdemeanor has several important benefits. These benefits include:

  • Receiving a lesser sentence
  • Receiving informal probation instead of formal probation
  • Being able to truthfully answer “no” when asked if you have been convicted of a felony when applying for a job, housing, or loan
  • Maintaining or regaining your right to own and possess a firearm
  • Maintaining or regaining your right to serve on a jury

The factors the court takes into consideration when deciding whether to grant or deny a 17(b) motion include the nature of the offense, the facts of the case, the defendant’s criminal history, the defendant’s personal history, and the defendant’s compliance with their probation terms and conditions.

Expungements of Felony Charges

In California, an expungement is a process of petitioning the court to review a conviction to determine if a guilty verdict can be withdrawn and replaced with a not guilty verdict. If an expungement is granted, the case is dismissed, and the conviction is set aside. It is typically in a defendant’s best interest to have a felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor before having their record expunged. Having the conviction reduced to a misdemeanor prior to an expungement preserves certain rights and benefits denied to those convicted of a felony, such as the right to possess firearms.

If you or a loved one would like a felony charge or conviction reduced to a misdemeanor, please contact the Law Offices of Scott D. Henry today for a free consultation.

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