Reduction to Misdemeanor Results in Certain Rights Restored
California Law (§17 of the Penal Code) allows a Motion to be filed to request a Felony conviction be reduced to a misdemeanor. This can be done at any time, even years after the conviction. See, Meyer v. Superior Court, 247 Cal. App. 2D 133 (1966)
This is a decision that is discretionary with the Judge, see, People v. Superior Court (Alvarez) (1997) 14 Cal.4th 968, 977; and may be opposed by the Prosecutor's office. It requires a Motion and Court Hearing on the merits of the request. This can be done at the same time an Expungement is requested. As the Judge has great discretion in this decision, it is crucial to present the Court with facts favorable to the reduction. Experienced legal counsel increases the chances of success. All legal work is done by an Attorney with 25 + years legal experience and more than 4000 successful expungement cases.
The charge must be a "wobbler" (originally chargeable as a misdemeanor or felony) so not all felony cases can be reduced. Most 'white collar' type offenses are wobblers.
We have had about 95% of our motions to reduce granted. The conviction is then a misdemeanor "for all purposes" making licensing and employment opportunities MUCH better- you no longer have a felony record, and can honestly answer "no" to any question regarding a felony conviction.
This reduction can also mean restoration of firearms rights; see, People v. Gilbreth (2007) 156 Cal. App. 4th 53, 57-58.
We have successfully reduced felony convictions all over California. This procedure can take about 8 weeks to 12 weeks, depending upon the Court and the complexity of the case. Please call for a free consultation to determine if you are eligible for the reduction of your case. If your case involved a State Prison sentence, even if the prison sentence was suspended, you are not eligible to reduce the conviction status to misdemeanor.
Fees are reasonable: $750.00 to (may be paid in two installments), and include the Petition for Reduction to Misdemeanor, Expungement (if applicable), all Court appearances, filing fees and research.
If Reduction under 17(b) of the Penal Code is done at the same time as an Expungement (set aside and dismissal under Penal Code §1203.4), there is NO additional charge for the reduction proceeding.
NEW law under Prop 47, (Penal Code section 1170.18) allows certain felonies to be reduced to misdemeanor status that otherwise were felonies only. See our Prop 47 page.
Penal Code § 17
(a)A felony is a crime which is punishable with death or by imprisonment in the state prison. Every other crime or public offense is a misdemeanor except those offenses that are classified as infractions.
(b)When a crime is punishable, in the discretion of the court, by imprisonment in the state prison or by fine or imprisonment in the county jail, it is a misdemeanor for all purposes under the following circumstances:
(1)After a judgment imposing a punishment other than imprisonment in the state prison.
(2)When the court, upon committing the defendant to the Youth Authority, designates the offense to be a misdemeanor.
(3)When the court grants probation to a defendant without imposition of sentence and at the time of granting probation, or on application of the defendant or probation officer thereafter, the court declares the offense to be a misdemeanor.
(4)When the prosecuting attorney files in a court having jurisdiction over misdemeanor offenses a complaint specifying that the offense is a misdemeanor, unless the defendant at the time of his or her arraignment or plea objects to the offense being made a misdemeanor, in which event the complaint shall be amended to charge the felony and the case shall proceed on the felony complaint.
(5)When, at or before the preliminary examination or prior to filing an order pursuant to Section 872, the magistrate determines that the offense is a misdemeanor, in which event the case shall proceed as if the defendant had been arraigned on a misdemeanor complaint.
(c)When a defendant is committed to the Youth Authority for a crime punishable, in the discretion of the court, by imprisonment in the state prison or by fine or imprisonment in the county jail, the offense shall, upon the discharge of the defendant from the Youth Authority, thereafter be deemed a misdemeanor for all purposes.
(d)A violation of any code section listed in Section 19.8 is an infraction subject to the procedures described in Sections 19.6 and 19.7 when:
(1)The prosecutor files a complaint charging the offense as an infraction unless the defendant, at the time he or she is arraigned, after being informed of his or her rights, elects to have the case proceed as a misdemeanor, or;
(2)The court, with the consent of the defendant, determines that the offense is an infraction in which event the case shall proceed as if the defendant had been arraigned on an infraction complaint.
(e)Nothing in this section authorizes a judge to relieve a defendant of the duty to register as a sex offender pursuant to Section 290 if the defendant is charged with an offense for which registration as a sex offender is required pursuant to Section 290, and for which the trier of fact has found the defendant guilty.