Trusted Criminal Defense Attorneys
In Southern California

I agree to receive promotional content and notifications from Manshoory Law Group through email or text message. For further details, kindly refer to our Privacy Policy.

Call or text Today for a
Free Case Analysis

(877) 977-7750

Select Page

California Penal Code 17B: How to Reduce a Felony to a Misdemeanor

Douglas Parker

Have you been convicted of a felony in California and wondering about having a reduced sentence for your punishment and recovery of certain rights or advantages? Does this case scenario sound familiar?

Fortunately, based on the provisions of California Penal Code 17B, it is possible to have your felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor.

This guide will explain step by step how to make the reduction and discuss the benefits of taking such a course: what kinds of felonies can be downgraded as well as how one should move forward with a Penal Code 17B motion.

Introduction to Penal Code Section 17(b)

If you’re looking at a felony reduced to misdemeanor status, Penal Code Section 17(b) provides a way to achieve this goal through the legal system. For people with felony convictions, this reform could mean the difference between years of struggle and a shot at rebuilding their lives.

Once convicted of a felony, the consequences can extend for a long time. Judgment imposing a punishment for a felony conviction can be extremely severe, including long prison terms, and heavy fines. Also, it results in a criminal record[1] that restricts job opportunities, living conditions, and personal relationships.

Nevertheless, there is hope for people who have made mistakes. Penal Code 17(b) is a ray of hope for those who want to start over. Under this provision, people who were convicted of a felony can have their crime reduced to a misdemeanor, provided certain conditions are met.

Lighter sentences mean less time away from families and loved ones. Restored rights open doors to jobs, housing, and opportunities that were once shut tight. It’s a chance to break free from the shackles of the past and finally move forward with hope.

It should be noted that not all felony offenses are eligible for a reduction in Penal Code 17(b). Certain criteria are established, such as the nature of the offense, the individual’s criminal history, and the circumstances surrounding the case.

In addition, granting a reduction is ultimately up to the judge as the court declares the offense. Factors to be considered by the judge might include the individual’s rehabilitation efforts, conduct since conviction, and potential risk to public safety.

For those who are eligible and successful in obtaining a reduction under Penal Code 17(b), the benefits can be life-changing. A misdemeanor conviction carries less stigma than a felony conviction and may open multiple doors.

Job opportunities may become more accessible when you have a minor offense[2] on your record. Professional licenses may be easier to obtain, and the ability to vote and serve on a jury may be restored as well.

While Penal Code 17(b) provides hope for those who want to move on from their pasts, navigating the court system is hard and often confusing. A criminal defense lawyer with a depth of experience is a must so you present a strong argument to your case.

By having an experienced lawyer by your side, you raise your chances of a favorable outcome and getting your life back on track through the process.

What are the Benefits of Reducing a Felony to a Misdemeanor?

There are advantages in reducing a felony to a misdemeanor under Penal Code 17(b). Most importantly, a reduced sentence. It is lower than that of a misdemeanor and people can usually count on lighter punishments. This can mean:

  • Shorter jail or prison term
  • Reduced fines
  • The possibility of probation instead of incarceration

Furthermore, having a misdemeanor conviction will make things easier in terms of finding a job[3] and reintegrating into society. By reducing your felony to a misdemeanor, you can demonstrate that you are someone who has devoted and is worthy of a second chance.

Besides, reducing a felony to a misdemeanor might significantly increase your civil rights. In some states, a citizen who has been convicted of a felony may be denied certain rights, such as the right to vote[4], sit on the jury, or own a firearm[5].

What Felonies can be Reduced to Misdemeanors?

It is important to clarify that not all felony offenses are eligible for reduction to a misdemeanor under Penal Code 17(b).

However, California law recognizes certain crimes as “wobblers,”[6] which means they can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s criminal history.

What are Wobblers?

There are hundreds of offenses in California that are “wobblers.” Common examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Assault with a deadly weapon – Penal Code 245(a)(1) PC;
  • Criminal threats – Penal Code 422 PC;
  • Corporal injury to a spouse – Penal Code 273.5 PC;
  • Child endangerment – Penal Code 271 PC;
  • Lewd acts with a minor – Penal Code 288 PC;
  • Grand theft – Penal Code 487 PC;
  • Burglary – Penal Code 459 PC;
  • Statutory Rape – Penal Code 261.5 PC;
  • Sexual battery – Penal Code 243.4 PC.

Got a wobbler offense conviction? It’s important to chat with a smart lawyer. They can find out if your charge can be lowered to a misdemeanor.

One thing should be borne in mind, however. It is not as though felony offenses are automatically turned into misdemeanors. The court must have a formal petition and the choice lies with the judge, as we have mentioned.

This is why consulting with an experienced attorney is so important. They are able to help you navigate it and submit a strong application for changing the charges, taking into account what happened in your particular case and your background.

Probation must have been Granted

For felony reclassification under Penal Code 17(b), granting of felony probation[7] is a must. If state prison was your sentence, this reduction isn’t for you. But, if you got probation, filing a motion to downshift your felony to a misdemeanor is possible.

In simple terms, when a court grants probation means that you’re being supervised or monitored instead of going to jail. During the probationary period, people should follow the rules stipulated by the court.

That means checking in regularly with their probation officer, participating in therapy classes or programs[8] to treat drug or alcohol addiction, and, of course, they should avoid any criminal behavior at all costs. However, failing to conform to these provisions can end in the loss of probation and a more severe sentence such as a jail term.

As for those who are granted probation, it means that the court believes they are suitable for rehabilitation or reintegration into society. Despite having violated the law, it is acknowledged that one can change his ways.

Penal Code 17(b), reclassification provides a way for those who have successfully completed probation to change their felony conviction for a misdemeanor. This change can be very beneficial, for misdemeanors generally have lighter penalties and do not have the same long-term side effects as felonies.

Implications of AB 109 on Felony Reclassification

The introduction of Assembly Bill 109 (AB 109) in California has had a major effect on felony reclassification. This law, also called the Public Safety Realignment Act[9], took a number of low-level offenders – most of them not considered to be dangerous – from state prisons to county jails or alternative forms of supervision.

Regarding the AB 109 statute[10], as to those who are eligible and received a county jail sentence, a petition to reduce a felony conviction to a misdemeanor can still be filed. However, you do need to consult with a lawyer to learn how the passing of AB 109 affects your specific case.

california penal code 17b

Procedure for Filing a 17b Motion

The procedure for filing a California penal code 17b motion to reduce your felony conviction to a misdemeanor has to be strictly adhered to laws and protocols. Although you can do this process on your own, it is better to consult with the support of a seasoned criminal defense attorney.

Here are the general steps involved in filing a 17(b) motion:

  • Prepare documentation: Collect all relevant documentation about your case such as your probation orders, sentencing papers, and other papers that support your request.
  • Consult an attorney: Schedule a consultation with a criminal defense attorney to discuss your eligibility for reduction and to determine the best strategy for your case.
  • Preparing the motion: Your attorney will draft all the required legal papers for you, including the motion for reclassification from a felony to a misdemeanor. The paper will set out the reasons why reclassification is warranted and will present supporting evidence.
  • Filing the motion: Once the motion is ready, it will need to be taken to the court that handled your original felony case. Your prosecuting attorney files the motion on your behalf.
  • Attending the hearing: After the motion is filed, a hearing date will be set. Your counsel will need to go with you to this hearing and present your case in support of reducing your felony to a misdemeanor.

When can I bring a Penal Code 17b motion?

Under California pc 17(b), there is no particular deadline for filing a motion. Nevertheless, the simplest advice is to bring this type of motion as soon as possible.

The court will look at factors such as the length of time elapsed since your conviction, your duty during probation, and any other factors that might affect their judgment.

What Factors Does the Court Consider?

In the event of a felony conviction, when deciding whether to grant a motion to reduce it to a misdemeanor, the court will consider many factors. A few examples are:

  • The nature of the crime
  • Your criminal history
  • Your behavior during probation
  • Your overall rehabilitation efforts
  • The impact of the reduction on public safety

Through showing real remorse, making strides toward personal development and rehabilitation, and giving evidence of positive contributions to the community, your shot at reclassification will be significantly improved.

Are there Penalties that Carry Over once my Felony has been Reduced?

Take note, even if a serious crime is lessened to a minor one, some consequences might persist. Like, if the initial crime meant you had to register as a sex offender, this may still be a requirement, despite the shift from a harsher crime to a lesser one. Plus, a minor crime record could still influence specific professional licenses.

Should I Seek Expungement as Well?

Expungement is a separate legal process that involves petitioning the court to dismiss your conviction and update your criminal record. While it’s helpful to downgrade a felony to a misdemeanor, getting your record expunged goes even further. It lets you honestly say “no” when someone asks if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime (though there are a few exceptions).

However, only professionals can guide you through this process. Your lawyer can walk you through the expungement process and figure out if it’s the right move for you.

Does a 17b Reduction Restore Gun Rights?

Regarding whether a Penal Code 17(b) reduction restores gun rights, it’s essential to understand that while a reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor can bring certain benefits like easier job prospects and the ability to vote, it typically doesn’t automatically restore firearm rights.

This means that even if your felony is reduced to a misdemeanor under 17(b), you might still be prohibited from owning or possessing firearms, especially if your original felony involved a violent crime or certain other offenses.

It’s crucial to consult with legal professionals to fully understand the implications of a 17(b) reduction on your specific situation, including any potential impact on your firearm rights.

Conclusion: Navigating Penal Code 17(b) Reductions

In conclusion, California Penal Code 17B provides individuals convicted with the possibility of having a felony reduced to a misdemeanor. This process can result in lighter sentences, restitution of rights, and improved prospects for employment.

However, navigating the legal system can be complex, and it is crucial to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney who can help you through each step of the process. If you believe you may be eligible for reclassification under PC 17B, consult with a knowledgeable attorney today to discuss your options and determine the best course of action. Remember, it is never too late to seek a second chance and build a better future.