California Penal Code 17(b) PC establishes two requirements for reducing a felony conviction to a misdemeanor:
- The underlying offense must be classified as an offense that can be charged and punished as either a felony or a misdemeanor), and
- Probation must have been granted.
The list of offenses that can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor includes crimes under:
- Penal Code 459 PC – California’s burglary law,
- Penal Code 245(a)(1) PC – California’s “Assault with a Deadly Weapon” (ADW) law
- Penal Code 422 PC – California’s criminal threats law
- Penal Code 273.5 PC – California’s spousal battery law
- Many California sex crimes (including Penal Code 243.4 PC sexual battery and Penal Code 288 PC lewd acts with a minor), and
- Most California fraud charges.
Only these types of felonies may be reduced to misdemeanors. Crimes that can only be prosecuted as felonies are not eligible for a misdemeanor reduction.
The second requirement is that probation must have been granted in connection with the felony conviction. If the court denied probation (or probation was violated), and the sentence included time served in the California State Prison, a reduction of the crime from a felony to a misdemeanor cannot be obtained. Serving time in a county jail is okay and does not affect eligibility.
In order for a felony conviction to be reduced to a misdemeanor, both of these requirements must be satisfied.