17 Oct 23

Can a Felony Be Reduced to a Misdemeanor in Florida?

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Last Updated on: 3rd November 2023, 07:11 pm

Can a Felony Be Reduced to a Misdemeanor in Florida?

Having a felony conviction on your record can make life real tough. It can be hard to get a job, rent an apartment, or get approved for loans. So is there any way to get a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor in Florida? Well, sometimes yes and sometimes no. Let me break it all down for you so you understand your options.

What is a “Wobbler” Offense?

The first thing you need is a charge that’s classified as a “wobbler.” This means under Florida law, it can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor[1]. Examples include possession of marijuana, petty theft, and writing bad checks.

If your offense is a straight felony that can’t be a misdemeanor, like armed robbery, then you’re out of luck. It can’t be reduced. But wobblers give you a chance!

When Can a Felony Be Reduced?

There’s a few main ways to get a wobbler reduced from felony to misdemeanor in Florida:

  • Charge bargaining – Your lawyer negotiates with the prosecutor to reduce the charges as part of a plea deal.
  • Diversion program – Prosecutor may offer this for first-time offenses, completing the program results in a misdemeanor.
  • Post-conviction relief – File a motion after conviction asking the judge to reduce the charges.

Let’s look at each of these options in more detail…

Charge Bargaining with the Prosecutor

The best time to try getting felony charges reduced is before your case goes to trial. Your criminal defense lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor in charge of your case.

If there are weaknesses in the evidence or issues with how the arrest was handled, your lawyer can argue to amend the charges to a misdemeanor. The prosecutor may agree in exchange for a guilty plea that wraps up the case quickly[1].

Diversion Programs

For some first-time wobbler offenses like drug possession or petty theft, the prosecutor may offer diversion as an alternative to normal prosecution. These are programs you complete, like drug counseling or community service.

Once finished, the charges get reduced to a misdemeanor with probation. Diversion is a great way to avoid having a lifelong felony conviction[2].

Post-Conviction Relief

Let’s say your case already went to trial and you were convicted of a felony. Is there anything you can do?

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In some cases, yes! You can file a motion for post-conviction relief under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850. This asks the court to reconsider your felony conviction.

If you have grounds like new evidence or ineffective counsel, the judge may reduce the charges to a misdemeanor. But your chances are lower once convicted[2].

Benefits of Getting a Felony Reduced

Why go through the hassle of trying to get felony charges reduced to a misdemeanor? There’s some major benefits if you can pull it off:

  • Better job opportunities – Many employers won’t hire felons
  • Easier to find housing – Landlords often deny felons
  • Restore gun ownership rights – Felons can’t own firearms
  • Avoid other legal restrictions – Travel limitations, etc.
  • Prevent deportation – Felonies can trigger this for non-citizens

Plus you’ll have less stigma without that scary “felon” label following you around. Getting a wobbler reduced can really improve your quality of life.

What About Expungement?

Expungement is when your criminal record is sealed or destroyed. This also helps lessen the impact of a conviction.

But in Florida, you usually must wait at least 10 years after completing probation to expunge felonies or misdemeanors[3]. So reduction may help sooner.

Consult an Attorney

Trying to navigate reduction of charges on your own is really tough. That’s why it’s so important to work with an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer.

They’ll know all the laws and options to explore in your specific case. A skilled negotiator can get charges reduced that you may have never thought possible.

So don’t just accept a felony conviction without exploring your rights. Fight to get those charges reduced with strong legal help on your side!

Let me know if you have any other questions. I know how confusing and stressful this process can be. But there is hope to lessen the impact of felony charges in Florida if you take action.

We’ll get through this together. You got this!