When You Can Move on From a Felony
Some California crimes can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances. These are called wobbler crimes. There are many different types of wobbler crimes, a few of which are domestic violence crimes. Many domestic violence crimes are charged as misdemeanors under normal circumstances. But, if the victim was injured or the defendant has a history of prior offenses, the crime may be charged as a felony.
Felonies are the most serious of California crimes, after misdemeanors and infractions. Felonies are crimes that can be punished by a prison sentence. California's state prisons are incredibly overpopulated, however, and so certain felony offenders may serve their sentences in county jails instead. Even without having gone to prison, you could face significant discrimination if you have a felony conviction on your record. Many people try to have their felonies reduced to misdemeanors for this reason. This can restore some of the rights a felony charge takes away. It can also mean you face less discrimination when it comes to jobs or housing. You can then answer “no” truthfully when asked on a job application if you have been convicted of a felony. And, once your felony is reduced to a misdemeanor, you may be able to then have that misdemeanor dismissed entirely.
Reducing a felony charge is complicated. First, you will need to find out if your crime was a wobbler and is eligible to be reduced. Talk to an attorney about the specifics of your domestic violence conviction. There are several different crimes that are considered domestic violence. Whether or not your specific conviction can be reduced can only be determined after speaking with an attorney. He or she can advise you on whether or not your conviction is eligible and can assist you with the process if it is.
Even if your felony was a wobbler crime, you must still meet other requirements. First, if you were given a prison sentence or otherwise put under the authority of the California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation you are ineligible for a reduction of your offense. Being given a jail sentence is fine; it does not render the felony ineligible to be reduced. In order to be eligible, you also must have been granted probation and have successfully completed it. If you have not yet completed your probation, you may be able to have it ended early, which would then make you eligible for the reduction.
When deciding on a petition for a reduction, the judge will look at the facts and circumstances of your conviction, your attitude, your character, and how you have conducted yourself since the conviction. You may need to provide supportive evidence such as a statement from a character witness. Evidence that you have reformed your criminal ways is helpful as well. Earning a degree, completing a counseling program, or otherwise bettering yourself since your conviction can help your chances at a reduction.
Even if you are successful in reducing your felony charge to a misdemeanor, not all of your rights may be restored. For example, your gun rights may not be restored if your felony was reduced to a misdemeanor domestic violence crime. Your gun rights may still be taken away for life. If you were required to register as a sex offender as part of your felony conviction, a reduction does not automatically mean you are relieved of this requirement. Your felony conviction could also still prevent you from obtaining certain state licenses, even if it is reduced to a misdemeanor.
Speak with an experienced California criminal defense attorney if you want to get a felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor. The process can be difficult, and the court has a lot of discretion when it comes to granting your petition. Your attitude and your character will be influencing factors. An attorney can help you prepare for your hearing and be ready to demonstrate the attitude the judge is looking for. An attorney can also help you prepare your petition materials so that the judge has sufficient information to make a decision on the reduction.
Do you have questions about reducing a felony charge? If so, contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for expert counsel. Experienced in criminal defense, our Visalia area legal team can advise you on what you can do to have your felony charge reduced. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, Christopher Martens will aggressively defend your rights and help you get the outcome you want. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.