For those who have been convicted of a crime, they know the consequences a sentence can have on their lives.
Conviction of a felony typically carries a prison sentence and a term of probation.
The far-reaching consequences of a felony far surpass those of a misdemeanor.
This blog post will address the question of when a felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor.
- Classification of Felonies
- Benefits of Having a Felony Reduced
- Getting a Felony Reduced
- Supporting a Felon in Reducing a Felony
Classification of Felonies
Each state has the responsibility for the classification of felonies, ranging from the most serious down to those considered to be the least severe.
All states use a similar classification system, typically dividing felonies into between 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. These are the ones which carry 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, Internet gambling, or sale of child pornography.
Below the level of felonies, of course, are misdemeanors. These are less serious crimes, with domestic violence and DUI being the most common.
Misdemeanors are also divided into categories depending on the seriousness of each crime.
Of course, it depends in which state 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 if the crime did not involve violence and the use of a deadly weapon, and if the accused person does not have any previous criminal record. Otherwise, the sentence will carry a prison term.
Felonies which are in the lowest category are sometimes called undesignated felonies.
In some states, felony crimes in the lowest category are termed “wobbler” crimes, such as California, are eligible to be reduced.
Wobbler crimes are those that could be classified as a felony or 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.
Benefits of Having a Felony Reduced
For a felony conviction, there are the loss of typical rights, such as the right to vote, own or possess a firearm, and hold public office.
The benefit of reducing a felony to a misdemeanor has to do with restoring some of the rights that are lost as a result of a felony conviction.
These rights include restoring gun rights, be able to serve on a jury, and obtaining a professional license.
An important benefit is honestly being able to say that they have not been convicted of a felony. This is essential in getting a job, housing, and obtaining a loan.
Certain restrictions will remain on felons’ records, such as in those states that have a three-strike law or when felons are registered sex offenders, who will be required to continue this registration.
Getting a Felony Reduced
There are typically several points at which a reduction can be requested. These are at the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, the time of felony sentencing, and after completing the sentence and probation.
The reduction of a felony to a misdemeanor is the decision of the court. Felons’ lawyers will file a motion with the court to have the felony reduced. A hearing is then held in court.
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, and prior criminal history.
This is when felon applicants can make their case.
No, 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 getting 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 expungement or sealing of their records can help significantly.
The Guide to Getting Employed is available to those who want that goal. There are stories of success and tips for presenting themselves in a favorable light.
When it comes to their employment record, having a quality resume is essential.
Supporting a Felon in Reducing a Felony
For families of felons in the position of wanting to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor, be there to encourage and cheer them on.
There is a major reward for your loved one and the family if that felony is reduced to a misdemeanor.
The collateral consequences are significantly less for a misdemeanor. Take that opportunity to help them.
The benefits will be worth the effort it takes.
So what do you think about this blog post about when a felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor? Have you or someone you know had a felony reduced? What was that like and were they successful in getting it reduced to a misdemeanor? Please tell us in the comments below.