Many individuals convicted of a felony for drinking and driving mistakenly believe that nothing can be done to clean up their criminal records. However, there are several forms of post-conviction relief available to convicted DUI / DWI drivers. One form of relief is to have a “wobbler” conviction reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Criminal cases fall into three separate and distinct categories: felonies, which are punishable by more than one year in state prison; misdemeanors, which are punishable by up to one year in county jail; or “wobblers” – cases punishable by either state prison or county jail. If the defendant was not sentenced to state prison, the conviction can be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor under California Penal Code Section 17 (b).
A qualified California criminal attorney can submit a written motion to the court to reduce a “wobbler” felony to a misdemeanor. If relief is granted, the crime is a misdemeanor “for all purposes,” with a few exceptions. The original conviction remains as a prior in any subsequent criminal action, meaning that if a person is arrested for a similar crime in the future, the punishment for that crime will be greater. Also, the right to possess firearms will continue to be restricted, because federal gun statutes supersede state law.
However, there are many benefits to having a felony reduced to a misdemeanor. The individual will no longer be classified as an ex-felon, and only the resulting misdemeanor, not the felony conviction, must be noted on a job application. The court will notify the Department of Justice of the reduction, and the DOJ will notify law-enforcement agencies. Updating the records takes about six months.
To learn whether a felony DUI / DWI conviction can be reduced to a misdemeanor, contact a California attorney experienced at handling post-conviction relief cases.