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Once Reduced, A Felony is a Misdemeanor for All Purposes

If you have been convicted of a felony in California, there is a good chance that the felony conviction can be reduced to a misdemeanor under California law. Under California Penal Code Section 17, a “wobbler” felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor any time probation is granted and no form of state prison (even a suspended sentence) has been imposed. This means that if you are having trouble getting or keeping a job because of your criminal history, you should call a lawyer about trying to clean up your past.

What Types of Convictions are Relevant?

If you have a prior drug or theft conviction that was a felony at the time of adjudication, but is now a misdemeanor, call a lawyer about getting the felony reduced. Many simple drug possession charges were straight felonies at the time of conviction. Many old marijuana related convictions were felonies here in California. Many of those same charges are misdemeanors now and as a consequence, the old felony convictions can be reduced to misdemeanors through a relatively simple process.

If you have an old theft offense that was a felony at the time, that too may be a misdemeanor charge now. Talk to a lawyer about petitioning the court to get that felony reduced to a misdemeanor. Many petty thefts with any prior conviction were felonies in the past. Many thefts of an amount under $950 were felonies in the past. Most of these are misdemeanors now. As such, many old felony theft convictions can be reduced to misdemeanors.

Details about Expungements

Additionally, many of these old convictions, whether reducible or not, can be expunged under California law. California Penal Code Section 1203.4 states that in most cases if we successfully complete probation for the entire period of probation, we can ask the judge to set aside our convictions and dismiss our cases. Once an expungement is granted that allows us to honestly tell a non-governmental entity that we have never been convicted of a crime. Hypothetically, if I go to a job interview at Wal-Mart and they ask me if I have ever been convicted of a crime. Assuming my expungement has been granted, I can honestly answer “yes”.

It should be noted that under realignment, felony sentences served in local jail can also be expunged. That’s right; “prison sentences” served in county jail or so called, “felony jail” sentences can now be expunged under Penal Code Section 1203.4. I understand that this technically conflicts with what I said in the previous paragraph. However, the difference is that the Penal Code was changed to allow these felonies to be expunged under the code. Please take advantage of this new change.

Potential Fines and Fees Due

As usual, it’s not all good news. There is normally a fee to file an expungement petition, usually about $120 per filing. The forms have to be properly prepared and filed with the court as well as served upon the prosecutor in a timely manner. I usually charge a small, flat fee for expungements that do not require a court appearance. The will be slightly higher if we have to go to court or prepare additional documentation or both.

If you or someone close to you has a criminal record and you want to clean it up, or if you have been charged with a crime including DUI, call a veteran lawyer who can help.

For more information call (818) 783-5700 or email