If you have been accused of or charged with committing a felony offense in the state of California, your entire future could be on the line. Understanding the charges against you and the potential impact of a felony conviction will be critical as you begin to prepare your defense strategy.
Your Los Angeles DUI lawyer can give you a better idea of the impact your charges will have on your life after having reviewed the specific details of your case. Here is more about what to expect from felony charges in the state of California.
Types of Felonies
Under California law, if you are charged at the felony level, there are multiple types of felonies you could be charged with. First are straight felonies. Straight felonies will only ever be charged or sentenced as felony crimes.
Straight felonies are considered the most serious type of crime under California law and will be considered strikes under California’s three-strike law. Some examples of criminal offenses that are considered straight felonies include:
- First-degree burglary
- Vehicle or manslaughter with gross negligence
- Sale of a controlled substance
- Lewd acts with a child under 14
Not all felonies are straight felonies. Some are considered wobblers. A wobbler offense is one that can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor at the discretion of the state’s prosecuting attorney.
The prosecutor will consider whether there are any aggravating factors present, your criminal history, and the individual details of your case to determine whether you should be charged at the misdemeanor or felony level. Some examples of crimes that could be considered wobbler felonies include:
- Sexual battery
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Domestic violence
When Can a Felony Be Reduced to a Misdemeanor?
Only wobbler crimes can be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. Straight felonies are not eligible for such reductions. California Penal Code 17(b) PC states that felonies can only be reduced to misdemeanors when an offender has been sentenced to and completed the terms of their felony probation and the offense is considered a wobbler felony.
If you are unsure whether your charges constitute a wobbler offense, be sure to reach out to your DUI lawyer for guidance and support.
Consequences of a Felony Conviction in California
The consequences of a felony conviction can vary widely depending on the crime you were convicted of. In the majority of felony cases, fines can reach as high as $10,000 and the defendant will spend time in California state prison or county jail. However, the amount of time someone convicted of a felony will spend in jail will be based upon whether their selling conviction carries a low, middle, or high term.
For instance, someone convicted of felony first-degree burglary could expect to face two, four, or six years in California state prisons, depending on the specific details of their case. In some cases, certain criminal offenses do not carry specific jail and prison terms. When this happens, it will be up to the judge to determine what the defendant’s sentence should be.
Generally, the judge will take into consideration whether there are any aggravating factors present, what your criminal history is, and the individual details of your case. If there are mitigating factors present, you might be more likely to be sentenced to the low or middle term.
Probation for a Felony Conviction
At the judge’s discretion, if you are convicted of a felony offense, they can convert all or part of your sentence to formal probation. Also commonly known as felony probation, you may be able to avoid spending your term in jail or prison by instead serving your sentence outside of police custody, but under the supervision of your probation officer. If you are placed on formal probation, there are specific terms you will need to meet.
Some of the conditions that might apply include:
- Completing community service
- Passing random drug or alcohol testing
- Attending regular meetings with your probation officer
- Paying restitution to any victims in your case
- Participation in mental health counseling or group therapy
- Random searches of your personal property
Generally, if you are convicted of a nonviolent felony, you could expect to spend up to two years on felony probation. However, in some cases, probation could be extended to three years if you were convicted of false impersonation, grand theft, embezzlement, or other crimes that do not specify a probation range.
What if You Violate the Terms of Your Probation?
If you violate the terms of your probation, the judge presiding over your case has the authority to revoke your probation and send you back to jail or prison to serve out the remaining term of your sentence. You will also face any criminal charges related to your probation violation should they apply. It is also possible the judge could increase the length of your probation or impose more severe restrictions depending on the details of your case.
California Felony Expungements
If you are convicted of a felony in the state of California, you may be surprised to learn that you could be eligible for an expungement. This means your conviction may be sealed when certain parties run your background check. If your record is expunged, you will also be able to truthfully answer “no” when you fill out applications that ask you whether you were previously convicted of a crime.
However, if you were sent to state prison as part of the terms of your conviction, you may not be eligible for expungement. To qualify for expungement in the state of California, you will need to be granted probation and have completed the terms of your probation. You must also not currently be in jail or on probation.
Furthermore, you cannot be facing any current criminal charges or have been convicted of specific types of violent crimes or sex offenses.
Contact a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer
When you are facing criminal charges at the felony level and do not know where to turn for help, get in touch with a knowledgeable Los Angeles DUI lawyer to discuss your defense strategy further.
Start exploring your legal options when you fill out our contact form or call our office to schedule your confidential case evaluation as soon as today.