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Can I Get a Felony Theft Down to a Misdemeanor?

Getting any felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor takes quite a bit of knowledge about the laws and court systems. If you want to get a felony theft down to a misdemeanor, it is best to consult with one of the excellent attorneys at H Law Group. The professionals can review the charges and how to get them reduced for the least amount of damage to your criminal record and the smallest punishment possible.

What is Considered a Felony Theft?

Theft crimes in California, more specifically Los Angeles, are outlined under Penal Code 484. 

484a PC states that “every person who shall feloniously steal, take, carry, lead, or drive away the personal property of another, or who shall fraudulently appropriate property which has been entrusted to him or her, or who shall knowingly and designedly, by any false or fraudulent representation or pretense, defraud any other person of money, labor or real or personal property, or who causes or procures others to report falsely of his or her wealth or mercantile character and by thus imposing upon any person, obtains credit and thereby fraudulently gets or obtains possession of money, or property or obtains the labor or service of another, is guilty of theft.”

In simpler terms, anyone who unlawfully takes something that is’t their own, is a thief and can be prosecuted as such. This includes labor as well as money and material property.

Types of Theft Crimes?

It is easiest to understand felony theft versus misdemeanor theft if the types of theft crimes are enumerated. These are not the only types of theft crimes but they are the more common kinds that have been seen in court:

Each of these crimes is punishable under the California Penal code 484. In some cases, (usually first offense) the courts will rule it as a misdemeanor but it really depends on the value of the items or property stolen. Typically anything valued at $950 or less is in the limit for a misdemeanor.

Theft Crimes Punishments

Depending on the outcome of the court case, a theft crime can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. Each charge has its own penalties. If convicted of a misdemeanor, a defendant will face roughly six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine, maximum. A felony conviction carries a sentence of 16 months to three years in prison.

It is important to note that both a misdemeanor and a felony charge can affect an immigration status. Theft crimes can trigger a deportation. In some cases such as aggravated felonies, the crime is considered “inadmissible”. 

California courts can charge a defendant with a ‘crime involving moral turpitude”. It involves crimes of dishonesty or vile conduct that surpasses natural behavior. If charged with this, it can mean professional disciplinary action, withdrawing of the credibility of a witness, and negative immigration consequences. 

How to Reduce Felonies to Misdemeanors

Being convicted of a felony can seriously impact your life. You can be denied jobs, housing, civil rights, driving privileges, and much more. If you can get a felony theft charge down to a misdemeanor charge, you’ll save yourself from many unwanted repercussions in the future.

One situation where a felony theft can be reduced to misdemeanor theft is when the crime itself is considered a wobbler crime. It is so called because it is left up to the courts to decide if it is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.

In California, Penal Code Section 17(b), once a defendant has gone through the preliminary hearing, a judge has the power to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor. In addition, the defendant has the right to ask a judge for a reduction in charges any time after a guilty sentence. 

California law also states that the convicted must have been granted probation during the original sentencing in order for a felony charge to be diminished to a misdemeanor. If the terms of probation have been obeyed, the defendant can request a termination of probation early which also increases the chances of getting the crime reduced to a misdemeanor. The defendant can request both at the same time.

Factors That Influence the Decision

A judge takes a number of things into consideration when asked for a reduction in charges. These include:

  • Defendant’s criminal history
  • Probation performance
  • Facts of the actual crime committed 
  • Potential career situation for the individual
  • Impending background check

All of these factors will come into play when the judge makes his decision. The better behaved the defendant is, the more likely the possibility of a reduction in the sentence.

What Changes With a Reduction?

In California, it is possible to get something called an expungement when filed under California Penal Code Section 1203.4 PC. It allows a convicted individual to clear their record of a crime. An expungement can only happen if a felony is first reduced to a misdemeanor. This is why it is so important to try and get a felony theft down to a misdemeanor. If expungement is granted, certain civil rights will be put back in place for an individual.

With the right help from expert attorneys, you can fight for a reduction in your sentencing. It takes time and good behavior and cooperation with your lawyer to get you back into society with a clean slate. 

H Law Group Online

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