REDUCTION TO A MISDEMEANOR
Penal Code section 17(b) provides a post-judgment method for defendants to petition for a reduction of qualifying felony offense convictions to misdemeanors.
An offense is eligible for a reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor if it is a “wobbler” offense and a punishment other than imprisonment in state prison was imposed. A “wobbler” offense is an offense that “in the trial court's discretion, may be sentenced alternately as felonies or misdemeanors--upon imposition of a punishment other than state prison (§ 17(b)(1)) or by declaration as a misdemeanor after a grant of probation (§ 17(b)(3)).” (People v. Superior Court (Alvarez) (1997) 14 Cal. 4th 968, 974.
Common wobbler offenses include:
· Cal. Penal Code § 245 (Assault w/ a Deadly Weapon)
· Cal. Penal Code § 273.5 (Domestic Violence)
· Cal. Penal Code § 487 (Grand Theft)
· Cal. Penal Code § 422 (Criminal Threats)
· Cal. Vehicle Code § 10851 (Vehicle Theft)
Generally, the petition to the court is supported by documentation that the defendant now lives a law-abiding life and the relief requested would be in the interests of justice. If granted, the offense would no longer be designated as a felony and would now be deemed a misdemeanor for all purposes.
After gaining the reduction to a misdemeanor, oftentimes, a defendant seeks to then dismiss the offense pursuant to Penal Code section 1203.4.
REDUCTION TO AN INFRACTION
Penal Code section 17(d)(2) allows defendants with a qualifying misdemeanor offense to petition for a reduction of the offense to an infraction.
An offense is eligible for a reduction from a misdemeanor to an infraction if it is listed in Penal Code section 19.8(a).
Common offenses listed in Penal Code section 19.8(a) include:
· Cal. Penal Code § 415 (Disturbing the Peace)
· Cal. Penal Code § 602(o) (Trespass)
· Cal. Vehicle Code § 12500 (Driving Without a License)
· Cal. Vehicle Code § 14601.1 (Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License)
A reduction to an infraction can greatly benefit a
defendant when attempting to obtain employment and for federal immigration purposes.
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