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Penal Code 17b PC - How To Reduce Felony To Misdemeanor In California

CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE 17B PC – HOW TO REDUCE FELONY TO MISDEMEANOR

Los Angeles Criminal Defense LawyerUnder California Penal Code Section 17b PC, individuals convicted of certain felony crimes have the opportunity to reduce their conviction to a misdemeanor. This means that a felony conviction is not always permanent, as there are “wobbler” crimes that can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony offense.

The determination of whether a “wobbler” is a misdemeanor or felony is made by a prosecutor during the formal filing of charges or by a judge during sentencing. A judge can change a “wobbler” from a felony to a misdemeanor through a motion filed in court, even if the prosecutor objects.

To proceed with a petition for reduction, it is advisable to consult with a criminal defense lawyer who can provide guidance and evaluate the specifics of your case. A Penal Code 17(b) motion is highly discretionary and requires expert legal assistance.

PC 17. (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:

(1) After a judgment imposing a punishment other than imprisonment in the state prison or imprisonment in a county jail under the provisions of subdivision (h) of Section 1170.

(2) When the court, upon committing the defendant to the Division of Juvenile Justice, designates the offense to be a misdemeanor.

(3) When the court grants probation to a defendant 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.

(4) When the prosecuting attorney files in a court having jurisdiction over misdemeanor offenses a complaint specifying that the offense is a misdemeanor, unless the defendant at the time of his or her arraignment or plea objects to the offense being made a misdemeanor, in which event the complaint shall be amended to charge the felony and the case shall proceed on the felony complaint.

(5) When, at or before the preliminary examination or prior to filing an order pursuant to Section 872, the magistrate determines that the offense is a misdemeanor, in which event the case shall proceed as if the defendant had been arraigned on a misdemeanor complaint.

Source: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=17.&lawCode=PEN

FELONY CRIMES ELIGIBLE FOR A REDUCTION TO A MISDEMEANOR

To reduce a felony conviction to a misdemeanor crime under California Penal Code 17(b) PC, two conditions need to be met. The offense must be a wobbler, and the convicted individual must have been granted probation. Both requirements must be fulfilled for the conviction to be reduced. Ineligible for reducing the conviction to a misdemeanor are individuals who served time in state prison, even if the offense was a wobbler. Some common examples of California “wobbler” offenses include:

  • Penal Code 459 – Burglary
  • Penal Code 487(a) – Grand theft
  • Penal Code Section 245 – Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Penal Code Section 273.5 – Corporal injury to spouse
  • Penal Code 422 – Criminal threats
  • Penal Code 243.4 – Sexual battery
  • Penal Code 288Lewd acts with a minor
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The list mentioned above is not exhaustive and does not include all eligible offenses for reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor. There are additional offenses, such as certain sex crimes and fraud crimes, in California that may also be eligible for such reduction.

Please note; only felony wobbler crimes in California are eligible for reduction to misdemeanors. This means that “straight” felony crimes, which do not have the option to be classified as wobblers, cannot be reduced to misdemeanors.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Not all felony offenses are eligible for reduction to a misdemeanor through a PC 17(b) motion. To qualify for such a reduction, the following criteria must be met:

  • The underlying offense must be a wobbler.
  • Completion of probation, including payment of all fines, is required.
  • There should be no prior California state prison sentence served or suspended prison sentence.
  • Individuals who received a county jail sentence under AB 109 realignment are ineligible for the reduction.

Typically, a PC 17(b) motion to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor is filed after successful completion or early termination of probation. The judge may also exercise discretion to grant the reduction during the preliminary hearing or sentencing of the felony case.

BENEFITS OF REDUCING A FELONY TO A MISDEMEANOR

The reduction of a felony charge to a misdemeanor under PC 17(b) offers several significant benefits, including:

  • Being able to truthfully state that you have never been convicted of a felony, which is crucial for job, housing, and loan applications.
  • The ability to obtain or maintain professional licenses.
  • Restoration of the right to serve on a jury.
  • Reinstatement of California gun rights.
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These advantages highlight the importance of seeking a reduction from felony to misdemeanor under PC 17(b) for individuals seeking various opportunities and rights in their personal and professional lives.

For example, when asked on a job application if you have ever been convicted of a felony, you may answer truthfully by stating “no,” which can increase your chances of employment. Additionally, restoring your California gun rights may be possible through this process.

FACTORS CONSIDERED BY COURT FOR A PC 17(B) MOTION

At various stages of legal proceedings, a judge in California has the authority to reduce a “wobbler” felony to a misdemeanor. This can occur:

  • At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing
  • During felony sentencing, or
  • After successful completion of probation for a wobbler offense

Even if currently serving felony probation, individuals can still petition the court, with the assistance of our California expungement lawyer, to have their felony reduced to a misdemeanor. In some cases, early termination of probation may be sought to expedite the process.

Upon completion of probation, there is no time restriction to request the reduction of a felony to a misdemeanor.

Factors considered by the judge in determining eligibility for a Penal Code 17(b) felony reduction motion include:

  • The nature of the offense.
  • The facts of the case.
  • Compliance with probation terms and conditions.
  • Criminal history.
  • Personal history.

In some cases, the District Attorney may oppose the reduction and present arguments to the judge. However, there are instances where the prosecutor may not object or remain silent on the issue.

CONSEQUENCES THAT MAY PERSIST AFTER REDUCING A FELONY TO A MISDEMEANOR

Even after reducing a California felony to a misdemeanor, there are still certain consequences that may apply. These include:

  • Prior “Strike” Under California’s Three Strikes Law: If the original offense was a serious or violent felony, the conviction will continue to be considered a prior “strike” under the Three Strikes Law.
  • Registration as a Sex Offender: If the offense required registration as a sex offender under Penal Code 290 PC, you will still need to fulfill this requirement even after the felony has been reduced.
  • Federal Consideration of Felony: The federal government may still view the conviction as a felony, especially in cases of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence under federal firearms statutes.
  • Professional Licensing Considerations: Some state licensing agencies, such as the California State Bar, may still treat the conviction as a felony for disciplinary purposes in professional licensing.
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It is important to note that the right to vote is not automatically revoked for all felons. However, individuals lose their right to vote if they are in state prison or on parole following a felony conviction.

On a positive note, apart from the mentioned exceptions, a felony reduction under Penal Code 17(b) is generally considered a misdemeanor conviction for all purposes. This means that the reduced felony cannot be used as a prior crime for future offenses requiring a preexisting felony conviction.

IMMIGRATION CONSEQUENCES

For non-U.S. citizens, even after a successful reduction, there can still be immigration consequences that persist. These consequences are particularly critical because U.S. immigration law, governed by federal statutes, does not always recognize state-level reductions from felonies to misdemeanors in the same way that state law does. Here are some of the immigration consequences that may persist:

  • Deportation Risk
  • Inadmissibility
  • Denial of Naturalization
  • Impact on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

If you are looking for more information, it is strongly advisable that you also consult with an immigration lawyer. If you do not have or know of an immigration lawyer, the Tabibnia Law Firm can refer you to one.

RELATED CRIMES

SPEAK WITH CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER FROM TABIBNIA LAW FIRM

If you or a family member requires assistance in reducing a felony to a misdemeanor under Penal Code 17(b) PC and are seeking legal representation, Tabibnia Law Firm is here to provide help. Cyrus Tabibnia, a skilled criminal defense attorney based in Los Angeles, will carefully assess the case details to assess eligibility and explore available options. He can assist in preparing and presenting relevant documentation in court to support the motion. For a consultation, please contact us at 866-713-2159.

Sources:

https://www.courts.ca.gov/42537.htm

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=17.

https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-17/

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia, also known as Shahrooz Tabibnia, is a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, California. With a law degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, he has been practicing law since 2005 and holds license #237348. With over 18 years of experience, Cyrus specializes in various misdemeanor and felony criminal Law including Domestic Violence, Theft Crime, Sex crime, DUI & DWI, Personal Injury, Employment Law, and Cannabis & Marijuana Drugs Law. Being bilingual in English, Persian, and Spanish enables him to effectively communicate with a diverse range of clients. From 2014 to 2018, he served as a board member of the Iranian American Bar Association. An expungement attorney in Los Angeles who can assist you in clearing your criminal record in the state of California.

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