Felony vs. Misdemeanor
It is easy to make the mistake of assuming all criminal convictions are the same. They clearly are not. A misdemeanor is a blemish on your record that can pop up in an annoying manner from time-to-time. A felony is a shotgun blast to your record…from five feet away. The impact of a felony record on your future life cannot be understated. We like to say we live in a free society, but nothing could be further from the truth if you are a felon.
What are the real world benefits we hear from our clients after we get their felonies trimmed down to misdemeanors? Perhaps the most important benefit is you no longer have to admit that you’ve been convicted of a felony. The process is such that the previous conviction is re-opened and then the charge is reduced. It is somewhat similar to being convicted of a crime and then having the appellate court overturn the conviction. The original conviction simply ceases to be, so you are not required to admit to it.
Background checks are now par for the course with most licensing boards and potential employers. Your criminal record is going to be discovered in any background check. It is simply a fact of life that can’t be avoided. That being said, the appearance of a felony is going to make it difficult to get a job. Furthermore, any licensing agency that sees a felony on your record is going to slam the breaks on your application. The same is not true in either of these situations if you only have a misdemeanor. Licensing boards may have further questions, but we are not aware of any profession where licensing is not approved because of a mere misdemeanor.
Motion Felony to Misdemeanor
When you retain us, we will file a motion to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor on your behalf. You can expect the prosecutor’s office to oppose the motion. This will create a situation where we have the burden of proof to show the judge two things:
1. The underlying crime was one that could have been charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, but the prosecutor decided to go with the felony count. Examples would be intimidating a witness of a crime into not testifying, violations of protective orders and conspiracy to defraud to mention only a few. [Contact our office for a full list of offenses].
2. Once convicted, you did not spend time in state prison. A county jail is not considered state prison and, obviously, neither is probation.
The matter does not end here if we meet the burden of proof on these two issues. The judge must then form their own impression of the situation and whether the change of the conviction from a felony to a misdemeanor would be in the best interest of society. To make this determination, the judge will consider:
- The type of offense at issues. A violent crime is less likely to be met with leniency.
- The circumstances surrounding the crime. Evidence that you were coerced or tricked into the act would be influential.
- The type of injuries sustained by the victim. If you serious injured the victim in a physical, emotional or financial manner, the judge will be less likely to grant the motion.
- Whether all the terms of your sentencing have been complied with including paying fines, restitution, performing ordered acts such as seeking counseling and so on.
- Your background including your education and employment history.
- Whether you have a prior criminal record and, if so, what it consists of.
This is where a good lawyer can make all the difference in the outcome of the motion. In representing our clients, we spend a great deal of time before trial developing evidence that can be used to sway the judge. This evidence includes testimony from interested parties and character witnesses. We also develop documentation showing written proof that you have accomplished certain things be they maintaining a job consistently, volunteering at church or other activities that reflect positively on you. All of this information must be packaged and presented to the judge in just the right way to maximize the effect and persuade him or her to grant the motion.
A criminal conviction is obviously a negative mark on one’s life. That being said, the difference between a felony and misdemeanor is substantial. A motion to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor, when successful, can grant you a new lease on life. Contact us today at 800-628-0285 to get started on that new life.