Anyone who knows someone with a felony record understands that it can follow a person for the rest of their life. In California, having a felony criminal record can affect future employment, professional licensing, voting rights, jury service, and gun ownership. However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. A California law will allow some low-level felons to have their convictions reduced to misdemeanors. With only three years to take advantage of the law, make sure time doesn't run out.
Approved by California voters in November of last year, Prop 47 allowed thousands of state prison and county jail inmates to be released as their minor drug and theft crimes were reduced. According to Contra Costa Public Defender Robin Lipetzky, the new law is, “a move in the right direction in terms of getting smarter in how we address low-level offenses that are driving many times by drug addiction and mental health issues.”
Under the law, convictions can be changed from felonies to misdemeanors. However, the reach of Prop 47 does not extend to all felonies. It only applies to a handful of charges, including:
- Shoplifting of $950 or less;
- Forgery of $950 or less;
- Fraud/Bad Checks of $950 or less;
- Grand Theft of $950 or less;
- Petty Theft of $950 or less;
- Receiving Stolen Property of $950 or less;
- Possession of Methamphetamine;
- Possession of Controlled Substance; and
- Possession of Concentrated Cannabis.
Prop 47 is retroactive, and impacts past convictions, even when the sentence has already been served. This means the felony can still be reduced to misdemeanors no matter how long ago the conviction. Even if you were previously denied a reduction in charge, if eligible, you may have your felony reduced to a misdemeanor. Now, counties like Alameda County are trying to contact ex-convicts who may be able to have their convictions reduced.
For most people, a felony conviction reclassified under Prop 47 as a misdemeanor will have a positive impact on future job prospects, military applications, professional licensing, and school and scholarship offers. If a job asks about a felony conviction, the individual will not have to indicate the felony reduced charge. However, gun ownership for a reclassified felon is still off the table.
If you or someone you know wants to have a past, eligible felony reduced to a misdemeanor, you will need to file a request in the county where you have the conviction. Alameda County has provided a specific form for those who have already completed their sentences to request a reduction of their conviction. Contact an attorney to find out more about the Prop 47 reduction process. There is only a three-year window to seek a reduced sentence.
At the Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending people facing criminal charges in the East Bay. With more than 30 years of experience, Lynn Gorelick understands the local DUI and other criminal laws, and will make sure you get the justice you deserve. Contact the local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands that you do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested.