A felony is defined by California law under Penal Code section 17(a), as:
[A] crime that is punishable with death, by imprisonment in the state prison, or notwithstanding any other provision of law, by imprisonment in a county jail under the provisions of subdivision (h) of Section 1170. Every other crime or public offense is a misdemeanor except those offenses that are classified as infraction.
Cal. Penal Code § 1170(a).
In short, felony offenses carry punishment of more than one year of incarceration.
If probation is not granted, or if a probation term is violated and sentence is imposed, felonies can be served either in the State Prison, or in the County Jail, depending on what the punishment for the offense requires. See Cal. Penal Code § 1170(h). Felonies that are served in the County Jail, however, do create the possibility that a portion of the term imposed can be served out of custody on what is called “Mandatory Supervision”, where the defendant is under supervision of a probation officer. An “1170(h)” sentence as it is called in criminal law circles may also be expunged from one’s record after they complete the sentence under Penal Code section 1203.41, which is not available to those who served a sentence for a felony in the State Prison. See Cal. Penal Code §§ 1170(h)(5), 1203.41.
While a crime may be charged as a felony originally, a judge or prosecutor can reduce the charge to a misdemeanor if the crime violated has a misdemeanor version of that charge. Cal. Penal Code § 17(b). This can be done at the Preliminary Hearing after argument by the defense attorney, by agreement of the judge and prosecutor in a plea agreement, on the prosecutor’s own motion, or if the defendant is granted probation and the judge thereafter declares the offense to be a misdemeanor. Thus, a knowledgeable defense attorney is essential in defending against felony charges in trying to reduce such a charge to a misdemeanor in defending the case.
Felony offenses can range from relatively minor conduct -like possession of a billy club- to the most serious crimes in the Penal Code, such as first-degree murder. The consequences for any felony conviction can be severe, such as denial of employment opportunities, arson or sex registration for life, denial of one’s right to own and possess firearms or ammunition under the Second Amendment, denial of the right to vote, denial of the right to serve on a jury, immigration issues, and many other negative repercussions.
Fortunately, the knowledgeable, trial-tested attorneys at Honeychurch & Boyd have extensive experience in defending all types of felony offenses, and have achieved great results for their clients in these matters. If you are charged with any type of felony offense, do not hesitate to call Honeychurch & Boyd today for a free consultation to see how our effective attorneys may be able to help you achieve the best outcome for your case.