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 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

Share |
Client Reviews
He gave me the peace of mind that my DUI case was going to be resolved. He fought for what it was needed and helped me by answering all my questions. Mike is not an average attorney. He’s a very experienced, honest and straightforward person that is there for you!
★★★★★
I hired Attorney Mike Kraut and I'm am so happy and grateful that I did! I was arrested for a DUI because my BAC level was over the .08 limit. I ended up getting a wet and reckless instead of a DUI. I still have to do some classes and I'm on probation, but I do not have a DUI on my record. If you have a DUI hire Attorney Kraut, he definitely knows his stuff!
★★★★★
Avvo User
There aren't enough positive words to write about Mike, but let me be clear that this is the only lawyer worth hiring in Los Angeles. Mike is professional, caring, and an absolute champion at winning in court.
★★★★★
Kyle, Avvo User
Mike Kraut is not a typical lawyer. He is a straightforward person with a true heart and a sympathetic ear. He is also smart and connected and he cares about the people who seek out his help. He got my son out of a jam. He did it quickly and painlessly. I recommend Mike Kraut to anyone that needs his services.
Thank you Mike for helping my son.
★★★★★
Mark, Avvo User
Michael Kraut is a rock star lawyer. I was really happy and satisfied with the results I received from Michael and his team. A few months back I was being accused of a serious felony. Mike gave me sound legal advice and worked diligently to clear my name. Mike was great at always keeping me updated and returning calls. Great, great lawyer I cant say enough about this man!
★★★★★
Eric, Google User
How can I express how relieved and pleased I am with Michael's professional abilities to have my Felony brought down to a misdameanor to a possible dismissal with deferment. With his care my life has been turned around and cannot say how helpful he's been not only in my case but life. He, himself has changed how I view criminal lawyers. Thank you so much Michael!
★★★★★
Owen, Google User