Reducing Felonies To Misdemeanors

California Penal Code 17(b) allows for certain felonies to be reduced to misdemeanors.  Under Section 17(b), such felonies can be reduced to misdemeanors before or after sentencing.  The timing of a charge reduction can be crucial.  For instance, a domestic violence incident charged as a felony under P.C. 273.5 is a “strike” offense. If the felony 273.5 is reduced to a misdemeanor before a guilty plea is entered, then it is a non-strike. A felony conviction for a violation of Penal Code Section 273.5 can result in a defendant being sentenced to state prison for two to four years. By contrast, misdemeanor convictions commonly involve probation.

Also, reducing a felony to a misdemeanor upon successful completion of probation may be critical to landing a job.  Most businesses are not interested in employing convicted felons. Having felons on the payroll can create insurance liability issues and bad publicity. Having the charge reduced to a misdemeanor and subsequently expunged avoids missed employment opportunities and possible problems when a person decides to “pop the question” to a lady with whom he would like to start a family.

If you’ve been charged with a “wobbler” (a charge that can filed by the DA’s Office as a misdemeanor or a felony), don’t try to have it reduced without the help of an attorney. If the motion is denied by the court, it will likely be a long time before it can be brought again. In such a situation, the cost of an experienced criminal lawyer is a wise investment when the quality of your life can be so drastically impacted.

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