Conviction of a felony typically carries a prison sentence and a term of probation. For those who have been convicted of a felony, they know the effects a lengthy sentence can have on their lives with far-reaching consequences.
This blog post will address the question of whether or not a felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor.
- What is a Felony?
- Why Have a Felony Reduced?
- At What Point Can a Felony Reduced?
- Recommended Action
What is a Felony?
A felony is a crime that is legally considered to be severe enough to earn at least a one-year prison sentence. As a felony each offense has a level of severity connected to it.
The classification of felonies, ranging from the most serious down to those considered to be the least severe, is determined by each state. A similar classification system across states typically divides felonies into three to six categories.
Some states use a letter classification system for felonies, ranging from Class A, the highest, to Class D or E, depending on how many categories that state uses. Other states use a numbering system going from Class 1, the most serious, to Class 6, the least serious.
The most serious crimes, such as murder and some drug-related offenses, fall into the highest category and are the ones with the longest prison sentences. In the lowest class of felonies are such crimes as possession of a small amount of certain drugs, receiving a stolen firearm, or internet gambling.
Below the level of felonies are misdemeanors, which are less serious crimes like domestic violence and DUI. Misdemeanors are also divided into categories depending on the seriousness of each crime. Once again, it depends on the state in which the offense occurred.
One of the stipulations for deciding whether a crime is considered to be a felony is the length of the sentence. The minimum felony sentence is one year in prison. Crimes which fall within the lowest classification may qualify for some type of adjudicated sentence.
This is possible if the crime did not involve violence or the use of a deadly weapon, and if the accused person does not have any previous criminal record. Otherwise, the sentence will typically carry a prison term.
Felonies which are in the lowest category are sometimes called undesignated felonies. In some states, such as California, felony crimes in the lowest category are termed “wobbler” crimes and are eligible to be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Some crimes, such as murder, are always considered to be a felony. Offenses such as aggravated battery, spousal battery, grand theft, and possession of a controlled substance, are examples of wobblers.
Why Have a Felony Reduced?
For a felony conviction, there is the loss of civil rights, such as the right to:
- Own or possess a firearm
- Serve on a jury
- Hold public office
- Obtain a professional license
The benefit of reducing a felony to a misdemeanor is restore some of the rights that are lost as a result of a felony conviction. Another important benefit is honestly being able to say that he or she has not been convicted of a felony. This is important in getting a job, finding housing, and obtaining a loan.
While reducing a felony to a misdemeanor, certain restrictions will remain on a felon’s records, such as in those states that have a three-strike law. Also, when felons are registered sex offenders, they will be required to continue this registration.
At What Point Can a Felony Be Reduced?
There are several times at which a reduction of a felony can be requested. These are at the:
- Conclusion of the preliminary hearing
- Time of felony sentencing
- Completion of the sentence and probation
There are several factors the court will consider. The court will ask why a defendant is seeking a reduction. Among the reasons may be:
- Rental applications
- Bank loans
- Child custody
The judge will also want to know:
- The severity of the offense
- Whether a defendant has completed probation
- If there were any probation violations
- Prior criminal history
It won’t be easy, but there is an opportunity available to those who want it. Doing the things that it will take to reach that goal and get that felony reduced will be challenging, but what hasn’t been since leaving prison?
Felons need to be willing to do what it takes. Felons can demonstrate their efforts to live an honest life by doing several things:
- Seeking to have their record expunged
- Going through a re-entry program
- Getting further education and training
Having support from family, friends, or previous employers can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.
There is a major reward if that felony is reduced to a misdemeanor. The collateral consequences are significantly less for a misdemeanor. The benefits could be worth the effort it takes.
So what do you think about this blog post about whether or not a felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor? Have you or someone you know had a felony reduced to a misdemeanor? What was that like and was he or she successful in getting it reduced to a misdemeanor? Please tell us in the comments below.