Reducing a Felony Conviction in California
Some offenses in California are considered ‘wobbler’ offenses, which means the crime can either be a felony or misdemeanor offense. It is up to the prosecutor to decide on the appropriate offense, and this decision is made based on a number of factors, such as the context of the crime and the defendant’s criminal history. In certain cases, defendants who have been charged or convicted with a felony offense can bring forth a motion to the court so as to reduce their felony conviction to a misdemeanor one. Not all defendants have this option available to them as there are strict eligibility criteria. If you have any questions about your case or would like to review your possible legal recourses, please reach out to us at Law Advocates Group.
Details on Felony Reduction
If a defendant would like to request a reduction, they have to file a motion under Penal Code (PC) 17(b). The PC 17(b) motion has strict eligibility. The possibility of felony reduction can only be considered if the defendant was convicted of a wobbler offense and granted probation. If the defendant served time in state prison, their request to reduce the conviction will be denied. There are many crimes in the California Penal Code that are classified as wobbler offenses. Examples of wobbler offenses include, but are not limited to, the following: conspiracy to obstruct justice, certain vehicular manslaughter charges, unlawful sexual intercourse, child abandonment, and burglary. If a crime is only classified as a felony and it is not a wobbler offense, then it cannot be reduced.
Bringing Forth a PC 17(b) Motion
If a defendant satisfies the above eligibility, they can file a PC 17(b) motion at one of three possible junctures: after the completion of felony probation, during the felony sentencing, or after a preliminary hearing. A separate court date will be scheduled where arguments are then presented by the defendant’s attorney and the prosecutor. The presiding judge will then decide based on several components, which include the defendant’s completion of probation (if applicable) and the context of the crime. A felony reduction is very helpful for defendants for reasons such as housing and employment, but it is important to note that some original penalties can still apply, like sex offender registration.