Reducing a felony charge to a misdemeanor can be desirable for several reasons. First, misdemeanors typically carry lighter penalties, which minimizes the social stigma associated with a conviction. Second, you will not lose your civil rights, such as the right to vote or bear arms, if convicted of a misdemeanor. For non-citizens, it may help avoid immigration consequences.
So, what exactly does it take to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor and mitigate the potential ramifications of a conviction? Here are four ways this can happen.
Through a plea bargain
You may get a deal from the prosecution to plead guilty to a misdemeanor in exchange for dropping the felony charges. This is known as charge bargaining and can be a way to avoid facing felony charges.
By challenging the prevailing facts
Some offenses can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony if specific facts are present. These are known as wobbler offenses. For instance, you can be charged with theft as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the amount stolen. The same applies to certain drug offenses, depending on the quantity or schedule of drugs.
By presenting evidence that refutes the presence of these crucial elements, you can secure a reduction in the charges you face. You can also do this by suppressing the prosecution’s evidence against you.
You may also go to trial and be found not guilty of the felony offense but guilty of a misdemeanor. However, this path is risky due to the uncertainty of trials where nothing is guaranteed.
It helps to have an informed assessment of the facts of your case to determine its strength and understand your options. The legal technicalities involved can be too complex, especially if you are not fully conversant with how things work in the criminal justice system. Reaching out for qualified guidance will significantly help your case and improve the chances of a desirable outcome.