Reducing Felonies to Misdemeanors

Wooden gavel and books

Defendants who are convicted of Los Angeles felony offenses may face several unexpected consequences as the result of the conviction. People who are convicted of felonies can face difficulty in finding jobs or suitable housing. These individuals may be unable to qualify for certain State professional licenses and those convicted of a felony will lose their right to own or possess a firearm and will lose the right to vote. However, individuals convicted of certain felony offenses may be able to petition the court to reduce the conviction to a misdemeanor and then to expunge the conviction. This can be critical for people who are trying to move on with their lives after being convicted of a felony.

Under California Penal Code Section 17(b) PC, a person who has been convicted of a felony can have the charge reduced to a misdemeanor when the underlying offense is what is considered a “wobbler” crime that could have been charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Additionally, the defendant must have been granted probation. There are many criminal offenses that are considered “wobblers” under the law, including burglary under California Penal Code Section 459 PC, grand theft under California Penal Code Section 487 PC, criminal threats pursuant to California Penal Code Section 422 PC and spousal battery under California Penal Code Section 273.5 PC. “Straight felonies” which can only be prosecuted as felonies are not eligible for misdemeanor reduction.

Under California Penal Code Section 17(b) PC, a judge can reduce a felony to a misdemeanor after a defendant’s preliminary hearing. The defendant can also request that the judge reduce the charge to a misdemeanor at the time of sentencing following a “guilty” verdict or a plea or “guilty” or “no contest.” If the defendant is currently on probation for a “wobbler” felony, the defendant can petition the court to terminate probation early and also request that the charge be reduced to a misdemeanor. In these cases, the defendant should have completed all the terms of probation, including payment of fines and restitution, and should have committed no new criminal offenses.

In addition, the defendant must have been granted probation to qualify for a misdemeanor reduction. If the defendant was sentenced to serve time in prison, he or she would not be eligible for a reduction. However, if the defendant was sentenced to serve time in county jail as a condition of probation, he or she would be eligible for misdemeanor reduction on a “wobbler” felony.

In deciding whether or not to grant the defendant’s request to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor, the judge will consider a variety of factors. These can include the underlying facts of the offense, the defendant’s performance on probation, the defendant’s criminal history and any circumstances that would support the misdemeanor reduction, such as a potential job offer or an upcoming background check.

If the judge agrees to reduce the felony conviction to a misdemeanor, the defendant could then file an expungement motion under California Penal Code Section 1203.4 PC. While felony convictions can be expunged, it is critical that the conviction first be reduced to a misdemeanor before the expungement. This would allow defendant to have certain rights restored, including the right to own or possess firearms.

Even if the felony conviction is reduced to a misdemeanor, there are certain penalties that will continue to affect the defendant. If the underlying offense was a “strike” offense, the “strike” will remain and would affect future offenses that the defendant may commit. In addition, if the defendant is required to register as a sex offender under California Penal Code Section 290 PC, this requirement would continue even if the charge is reduced to a misdemeanor.

If you have been charged or convicted of a felony and are interested in having the charge reduced to a misdemeanor, it is crucial that you speak with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who is who highly regarded by judges and prosecutors for his knowledge of the law and dedication to his clients.

For more information about reducing felony convictions to misdemeanors in Los Angeles, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

Share |
Featured on CNN
ABC News
NBC News
Los Angeles Times
CBS News
The New York Times
Us Weekly
Entertainment Tonight
Good Morning America
Legal Broadcast Network
Avvo Rating 10.0
Client Reviews
Michael Kraut is outstanding! He genuinely cared about my case and instructed my mom and I throughout the entire process. He was very clear on what he needed in order to receive the best results. He kept us updated until the end. I thank him so much for getting my charges rejected. I highly recommend him to anyone with legal needs! Shaquan
I contacted Michael with concern for my personal and business reputation. He was very reassuring and confident the entire time. After about 3 weeks it was determined that no charges were being filed by any agency and I was in the clear of any investigation. One thing that is amazing is just how FAST Michael is at replying to phone calls, texts, and even emails! We are talking under 30 minutes in most cases. That is unheard of for most attorneys! Michael is incredible and not your typical run of the mill attorney. For best results hire him if you feel like you might be under investigation or could face charges. Even if you know you are innocent it is best to take care of the smoke before it becomes a fire. Brad
Michael Kraut is-hands down-the best criminal defense attorney and I can't begin to thank him for all that he did for me and my family. I reached out to him in the middle of the night and less than a couple hours later, he had gotten back to me and scheduled a meeting. He's a no-nonsense attorney who knows how to get the job done! From the second we retained him, I had peace of mind in knowing that we were in the best hands possible. If Michael Kraut couldn't get it done, I knew that it couldn't be done at all. You can't put a price tag on your freedom. He was worth every single penny. Lida
Michael Kraut is an outstanding attorney. He was extremely professional, and straightforward, yet sensitive with my case. I am confident I made the right choice by hiring Michael. I highly recommend him to anyone seeking a truly experienced lawyer. Daniel
Michael Kraut - I cannot thank you enough for all that you did for ​my son. When I came to you I read that you used to be a district attorney but I never knew how much that meant until I watch you in court. I knew it took 3 months but the final day when I heard the judge say that all charges were dismissed it was all worth it! I will always be grateful for all that you did for us. A.N.