Reveal Law

From Felony to Misdemeanor: Clearing Your Record for a Fresh Start

Title: How to Reduce a Felony Conviction to a Misdemeanor: A Guide to Clearing Your RecordHaving a felony conviction on your record can have long-lasting consequences, impacting your job prospects, housing applications, and even the ability to pursue certain professions or obtain professional licenses. However, there are ways to reduce a felony conviction to a misdemeanor, which can greatly alleviate these burdens and provide a fresh start.

In this article, we will explore four effective strategies for reducing a felony conviction to a misdemeanor, as well as the benefits that come with achieving this reduction.

4 Ways to Reduce a Felony Conviction to a Misdemeanor

1. Plea Bargain:

One commonly utilized method for reducing a felony conviction to a misdemeanor is through plea bargaining.

By negotiating with the prosecution, you may be able to secure a plea agreement where the original felony charges are reduced to misdemeanor charges. This process, known as charge bargaining, typically involves pleading guilty to a lesser offense than the one you were originally charged with.

It is important to consult with a skilled attorney who can guide you through this process and ensure your rights are protected. 2.

Complete Diversion:

Another approach to reducing a felony conviction to a misdemeanor is by successfully completing a diversion program. Diversion programs are typically available for individuals charged with minor offenses or non-violent offenses.

By entering into these programs and fulfilling the required conditions, such as attending counseling or community service, you may be able to have your guilty plea withdrawn and the charges dropped or reduced to a misdemeanor upon successful completion. Diversion programs offer individuals a chance to reform and demonstrate good behavior, providing an alternative to traditional legal consequences.

3. Complete Probation:

Completing probation successfully is another avenue to reduce a felony conviction to a misdemeanor.

If you’re sentenced to probation or community supervision, fulfilling all the terms of your probation, and satisfying the requirements imposed by the court, you may be eligible to file a motion, commonly known as a 17(b) Motion, requesting the judge to reduce your conviction from a felony to a misdemeanor. A diligent effort to adhere to the conditions of your probation, showing commitment to rehabilitation, can greatly increase the chances of obtaining a reduction.

4. Show that Felony Charges Are Not Supported by the Facts:

In certain cases, you can argue that the felony charges against you are not supported by the facts of the case, thereby potentially leading to a reduction to a misdemeanor.

This strategy is particularly effective when dealing with wobbler offenses, which are crimes that can either be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. By presenting thorough evidence and compelling arguments demonstrating that the felony charges are unwarranted, your attorney may be able to convince the court to reduce the charges to a misdemeanor.

Benefits of Getting a Reduction

1. Not Having to Admit to a Felony Conviction on Applications:

Having a misdemeanor conviction instead of a felony can significantly improve your chances of securing employment, housing, and loans.

Many job applications, housing applications, and loan applications require disclosure of felony convictions, which can disqualify applicants. By successfully reducing your conviction to a misdemeanor, you can truthfully answer “no” to questions asking about felony convictions, thus positioning yourself more favorably for these opportunities.

2. Retaining Eligibility for Professional Licenses:

Certain professions and occupations require professional licenses, which may be denied or revoked due to felony convictions.

By obtaining a reduction to a misdemeanor, you can retain your eligibility for these licenses, allowing you to pursue your desired career paths without unnecessary obstacles. It is important to note that background checks are still commonly conducted for professional licenses, but a misdemeanor conviction is typically viewed less severely than a felony conviction.

3. Potentially Being Able to Expunge the Offense:

Expungement refers to the process of sealing or erasing a criminal record, providing a fresh start for individuals who have demonstrated rehabilitation and compliance with the law.

While the eligibility criteria for expungement may vary depending on jurisdiction, misdemeanor convictions generally have a better chance of being expunged compared to felony convictions. Expungement can help you move forward with your life, with the ability to present yourself without the stigma of a prior offense.

4. Restoring Gun Rights:

For those who wish to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms, a felony conviction can result in the loss of this privilege.

However, in certain states, reducing a felony conviction to a misdemeanor may enable individuals to have their gun rights restored. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific laws in your state and consult with legal professionals to understand the possibilities and requirements for restoring gun rights.

Conclusion:

Reducing a felony conviction to a misdemeanor can significantly impact one’s opportunities and quality of life. By employing strategies such as plea bargaining, completing diversion programs, successfully fulfilling probation terms, or demonstrating that felony charges lack evidentiary support, individuals can strive towards clearing their records.

With a misdemeanor conviction, individuals can overcome some of the significant hurdles associated with a felony record, such as restricted job prospects, housing applications, and professional license eligibility. Remember, consulting with a knowledgeable attorney is crucial to navigate the legal process, ensuring the best possible outcome in pursuing a reduction and a brighter future.

California Law on Reducing a Felony to a Misdemeanor

California law provides several avenues for individuals to seek a reduction from felony to misdemeanor charges. Understanding the options available and the associated conditions is crucial in navigating the legal process.

In this section, we will delve into the specific provisions under California law, including pretrial diversion programs, 17(b) motions after felony probation, consequences of a reduced felony, and pursuing expungement after reduction. 1.

Pretrial Diversion Programs:

In California, pretrial diversion programs, including mental health diversion, offer alternatives to traditional prosecution for individuals facing felony-level offenses. These programs primarily focus on offenders with mental health issues or substance abuse problems, recognizing the need for treatment rather than imprisonment.

By participating in a pretrial diversion program, individuals may be able to avoid felony convictions altogether, which is particularly significant for maintaining employment prospects and avoiding collateral consequences. Conditions for pretrial diversion programs typically include regular court appearances, participation in mandated treatment programs, and adherence to the orders of a mental health or substance abuse expert.

Successfully completing the program can result in the dismissal of charges, avoiding the stigma and long-term implications of a felony conviction. 2.

17(b) Motion after Felony Probation:

If you have been convicted of a “wobbler offense” in California, which is a crime that can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, you may have the opportunity to seek a reduction under Penal Code Section 17(b) even after serving felony probation. Section 17(b) allows defendants to petition the court to have their conviction reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.

However, it is important to note that the judge has the discretion to grant or deny the motion based on factors such as the nature of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history, and the impact on public safety. The successful reduction of a felony to a misdemeanor through a 17(b) motion can result in significant benefits, including reduced sentencing, eligibility for alternative sentencing programs, and improved prospects for employment and housing.

3. Consequences of a Reduced Felony:

While obtaining a reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor can offer numerous advantages, it is crucial to be aware of certain circumstances where the reduced felony can still have significant repercussions.

For instance, certain offenses, such as specific sex crimes, may require mandatory sex offender registration regardless of whether the conviction is reduced to a misdemeanor. Additionally, individuals with felony convictions under California’s Three Strikes Law may not benefit from a reduction since the law mandates more severe penalties for subsequent convictions.

Furthermore, it is important to understand that even with a reduction, the federal government may still consider the offense a felony, potentially impacting federal employment opportunities and certification requirements for certain professions. Consulting with an experienced attorney will help navigate these complex circumstances and provide clarity regarding the potential consequences of a reduced felony.

4. Pursuing Expungement after Reduction:

Seeking expungement, the legal process of sealing or erasing a criminal record, is a logical next step for individuals who have successfully obtained a reduction from felony to misdemeanor.

Expungement allows defendants to present themselves as individuals without a criminal conviction, facilitating improved chances for employment, housing, and professional opportunities. If the felony conviction has been reduced to a misdemeanor, many individuals may be eligible to pursue expungement under California law.

However, it is important to note that eligibility criteria vary depending on the specific circumstances and jurisdiction. Consulting with a knowledgeable attorney will help assess eligibility and guide individuals through the necessary steps to pursue expungement successfully.

Conclusion:

California law offers various options for individuals seeking a reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor, providing opportunities to overcome the significant barriers associated with a felony conviction. Pretrial diversion programs, 17(b) motions, and the possibility of expungement after reduction are mechanisms available under California law.

However, it is essential to be mindful of potential consequences, such as mandatory sex offender registration or the impact of the Three Strikes Law. Navigating the legal process and understanding the intricacies of California law necessitate consultation with an experienced attorney to ensure the best possible outcome in pursuing a reduction and subsequent expungement.

By taking proactive steps in reducing a felony conviction to a misdemeanor, individuals can work towards a brighter future, free from the limitations and stigma of a felony record.

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