We are commonly asked at our offices if it’s possible to reduce a felony conviction to a misdemeanor, and the answer is commonly yes. I say commonly because there are some limitations to the types of crimes that are eligible for such treatment. The two most important factors that determine if your crime is eligible are:
- Was your offense a wobbler?
- Was probation granted?
The first element requires that your crime was a wobbler. A wobbler is a crime that can be tried as both a felony and misdemeanor, this eliminates some sex related crimes and violent offenses. There are a plethora of wobblers in our system but here is a list of the most common:
- CA Penal Code 459 – Burglary
- CA Penal Code 422 – Criminal Threats
- CA Penal Code 245 – Assault with a Deadly Weapon
- CA Penal Code 314 – Indecent Exposure
The second element requires that you were granted probation and that your probation term was served successfully, meaning without any violations. If you were granted probation but then violated the terms of your probation then you are not eligible to have your felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor.
When am I Eligible to Reduce my Felony Conviction?
You are eligible to have your conviction reduced upon the completion of your probation term. If you want to petition for an early termination of your probation you can contact an attorney who can petition on your behalf. In order to be eligible for early termination of your probation there must be good cause, such as:
- Your probation is preventing you from advancing at your job
- It is preventing you from obtaining employment
- Qualifying for a loan
Furthermore, you must have successfully completed all the terms of your probation before a judge will grant early termination.
What Factors Determine Whether the Reduction Will be Granteed
Just because you successfully completed your probation term and your offense was a wobbler does not guarantee that your felony conviction will be reduced. There are several factors that the judge will explore before making the decision, namely:
- Your criminal background
- How quickly and efficiently you completed the terms of your probation
- The facts of the case that led to your felony conviction
- Your personal background
What are the Benefits and the Drawbacks of Reducing a Felony Conviction
The benefits of reducing a felony conviction to a misdemeanor are numerous. Firstly, you can honestly and truthfully say that you are not a convicted felon. You become more desirable for companies when seeking employment and you also become eligible for certain professional licenses that are only available to non-convicted felons. You are also able to serve on a jury and you might be able to have your California gun rights restored.
However, there are limitations as to what the reduction can do for you. Firstly, you will still be required to register as a sex offender in accordance to CA Penal Code 290 . Secondly, if your felony was for a serious or violent offense, a reduction will not erase the strike you received in accordance to California’s Three Strike’s Law. Next, not all state licensing agencies will consider the reduction to be official.
If you are a convicted felon and want to have your conviction reduced to a misdemeanor then it’s imperative to talk to a skilled attorney who knows the court system inside and out. Seppi Esfandi has over 13 years of experience representing clients for a myriad of criminal matter and providing other valuable legal services. He is a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law and has great relationships with numerous judges and prosecutors.