Anyone who is convicted of a felony in American society faces significant burdens and hardships resulting from his or her status as a convicted felon. Employment opportunities are affected as well as the ability to hold a professional license or possess firearms. A motion under § 17(b) of the California Penal Code allows the reduction of a felony to a misdemeanor for those cases that qualify.
California Penal Code § 17(b) provides:
“(b) When a crime is punishable, in the discretion of the court, either by imprisonment in the state prison or imprisonment in a county jail under the provisions of subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or by fine or imprisonment in the county jail, it is a misdemeanor for all purposes under the following circumstances . . . (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.”
California Penal Code § 17(b) PC establishes two requirements for reducing a felony conviction to a misdemeanor. First, the underlying offense must be a wobbler – a crime that may be charged either as a felony or misdemeanor and probation must have been granted. “Straight” felonies – those which may only be prosecuted as felonies – are therefore not eligible for a misdemeanor reduction. A defendant may file a § 17(b) motion at the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, at sentencing, or when felony probation is completed.
If the court denied probation or probation was violated by the defendant, who was sentenced to serve time in the California State Prison, the criminal charge may not be reduced to a misdemeanor. This same individual would also not eligible for an expungement of a criminal record under California Penal Code § 1203.4 PC.
California courts consider a variety of factors when deciding whether to grant a PC 17(b) felony reduction. These factors include the nature of the offense, the facts of the case, the defendant’s compliance with the terms and conditions of his and her probation, the defendant’s criminal history, and the defendant’s personal history. The prosecutor may argue against reduction or may remain silent – positions that the judge may or may not consider.
Reducing a felony conviction to a misdemeanor under California Penal Code § 17(b) offers many significant benefits, including the following:
- The ability to honestly say that you have never been convicted of a felony,
- obtaining or maintaining professional licenses,
- regaining the right to serve on a jury, and
- restoring your California gun rights.
A felony reduction to a misdemeanor will enhance an individual’s chances of approval for any job, housing, and loan applications. Contact the Dolan Law Offices to learn more about this valuable tool for restoring and enhancing one’s reputation to where it should rightfully and deservedly stand in 2020.
For over forty years, the Dolan Law Offices have provided post-conviction services to help the residents of the Coachella Valley clear their criminal record to restore their future as productive, law-abiding members of our community. There are not many attorneys more experienced in helping California residents clear their criminal records than John Patrick Dolan. Call the Dolan Law Offices today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.