Reduction of Charges – PC 17b
Reduce Your Felony Charge to a Misdemeanor – PC 17b
If you are convicted of a felony, it may be extremely difficult for you to find a job. Moreover, you will not be able to vote in an election or own a gun. In some instances, your Wallin & Klarich attorney may be able to help you reduce your felony to a misdemeanor and restore your voting rights and right to gun ownership under California Penal Code section 17b (PC 17b)[i].
What types of crimes are there in California?
In California, there are three types of crimes: felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions. A felony is a crime that is punishable by death, imprisonment in the state prison, or imprisonment in county jail. Under California Penal Code section 18, a felony where the punishment is not otherwise prescribed is punishable by imprisonment in state prison for up to three years unless the offense is punishable by imprisonment in county jail pursuant to Penal Code section 1170(h).
A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by imprisonment in county jail, a fine, or both a fine and imprisonment in county jail. Under California Penal Code section 19, a misdemeanor where the punishment is not otherwise prescribed is punishable by imprisonment in county jail for up to six months, a fine of up to$1,000, or both a six month imprisonment in county jail and a $1,000 fine.
However, many misdemeanor offenses include punishment in county jail for up to one year within its provisions. Also, a misdemeanor offense can be punished by a fine of up to $2,000 in some cases. For example, battery against a spouse under California Penal Code section 243(e)(1) is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000, imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, or both fine and imprisonment.
An infraction is an offense punishable by a fine. Under California Penal Code section 19.6, an infraction is not punishable by imprisonment.
What felonies can be reduced to a misdemeanor?
Under California PC 17b, you may be able to request that your felony conviction be reduced to a misdemeanor if the offense you committed is a “wobbler”. A “wobbler” is a crime that may be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances of your case. If the offense you committed is not a “wobbler”, then you will not be able to reduce it from a felony to a misdemeanor pursuant to PC 17b.
Common examples of wobblers include:
- Assault with a deadly weapon (Penal Code section245(a)(1));
- Battery on a spouse (Penal Code section 273.5(a));
- Grand theft (Penal Code section 487(a)); and
- Possession of a controlled substance (Health & Safety Code section 11377).
What rights will be restored to me by reducing my felony conviction to a misdemeanor?
When you are convicted of a felony, several important rights are taken away from you that will be restored when your charges are reduced to a misdemeanor. For example,
- You will have the right to tell employers when you apply for a job that you were not convicted of a felony;
- You will have the right to own a gun;
- You will have the right to serve on a jury;
- You will have the right to obtain or maintain certain professional licenses; and
- Your will have the right to vote in an election; otherwise it will be denied until you complete your parole or probation as a convicted felon.
Having your felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor under PC 17b restores your voting rights, gun ownership rights, and, in some instances, your ability to obtain or maintain your professional license. In addition, you can state that you have never been convicted of a felony on job applications.
What factors will the court consider when determining whether to reduce my felony to a misdemeanor?
The court has the discretion to determine whether to reduce your felony conviction to a misdemeanor under PC 17b. The court will consider several factors in determining whether to reduce your conviction from a felony to a misdemeanor, including:
- The nature and seriousness of your offense;
- Your behavior while on probation or under court supervision;
- Your prior criminal record; and
- Any other mitigating or aggravating factors in your case.
When can I request that my felony conviction be reduced to a misdemeanor?
There are several instances in which you can request that the court reduce your felony conviction to a misdemeanor under PC 17b. You may be able to petition the court to reduce your conviction from a felony to a misdemeanor once you have successfully completed your probation. Your Wallin & Klarich attorney may even be able to request that the court terminate your probation early if you have been on good behavior during your probation period. (PC 1203.3)[ii]
Will any penalties from my felony conviction remain once I reduce my felony conviction to a misdemeanor?
Once your felony conviction has been reduced to a misdemeanor pursuant to PC 17b, your conviction will be treated as if it had been a misdemeanor all along. However, certain penalties as a result of your initial felony conviction will remain.
For instance, if the offense you committed was a serious or violent felony, the conviction will remain a “strike” for the purposes of California’s Three Strikes Law. Moreover, if you were required to register as a sex offender under Penal Code 290[iii] as a result of your felony conviction, the reduction of your conviction to a misdemeanor does not terminate that sex offender registration requirement.
Some professional licensing agencies will still consider your felony conviction as a felony, even after you get the conviction reduced to a misdemeanor. The State Bar of California considers a felony conviction as a felony, despite a reduction to a misdemeanor, for attorney disciplinary purposes.
How can a Wallin & Klarich attorney help me reduce my felony conviction to a misdemeanor?
The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are highly skilled and experienced in helping clients reduce their felony convictions to a misdemeanor. For over 30 years, Wallin & Klarich attorneys have successfully helped clients petition the court to receive a reduction in their felony convictions under PC 17b.
Your Wallin & Klarich attorney will help guide you through every step of the process. We will explain to you whether your offense is a “wobbler” and if you qualify for a reduction of your conviction under PC 17b. Furthermore, we will help you construct a strong argument in favor of reducing your conviction to a misdemeanor. Our experienced lawyers will appear in court on your behalf and be there to persuade the court to grant your motion to reduce your conviction from a felony to a misdemeanor.
The experienced attorneys at Wallin & Klarich understand that reducing your felony conviction to a misdemeanor pursuant to PC 17b can greatly help you in your personal and professional life. We know that it may be difficult to move forward with your life after such a devastating punishment and we are here to help.
Our offices are conveniently located in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Ventura, West Covina, Sherman Oaks, and Torrance. Please call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245. We will be there when you call.
[i] Information on Penal Code section 17(b) retrieved from http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=pen&group=00001-01000&file=2-24
[ii] Information on Penal Code 1203.3 retrieved from http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/1203.3.html
[iii] Information on Penal Code 290 retrieved from http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/290.html