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Criminal Defense Attorneys

Health & Safety Code § 11350(a) Felony, Drop to Misdemeanor

On the evening of the Super Bowl in 2005, our client, then age 22, was arrested for sales of cocaine after Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officers made a traffic stop of his vehicle that he was driving.  Officers searched his vehicle and found 11 grams of cocaine in a box inside his car.  He was also driving on a suspended license.

About eight months later, he entered a guilty plea in the Norwalk Superior Court to a violation of Health & Safety Code § 11350(a), possession of a controlled substance.  The charges of possession of a controlled substance for sales (Health & Safety Code § 11351) and driving on a suspended license (Vehicle Code § 11351) were dismissed.

At the time of the arrest, he was employed as a licensed bail bondsman, but soon thereafter, his license was revoked and he became a union ironworker, which he performed for over fifteen years until 2020 when he transitioned to being a longshoreman mechanic at the Port of Long Beach.

The felony conviction was stigmatizing to him and in 2010 he filed a petition for dismissal under Penal Code § 1203.4 (“expungement”), which was granted. 

As the reader of this summary may be aware, however, relief under § 1203.4 does not erase, delete or remove the record of the case having been filed against a defendant.  In fact, our client’s criminal history still showed he was charged with sales of a controlled substance and, later, possession of a controlled substance. 

In late 2020, he called Greg Hill & Associates to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor because he wanted to reapply for a bail bondsman license, but his licensing attorney had advised him that doing so with a record showing a felony case, even if expunged, would result in his application being denied.

Our client asked Greg if there was anything he could do.  He explained that he was the primary financial provider for his family, so having such restrictions on his ability to financially provide for his family affected not only himself, but his wife and children as well.  In other words, this felony case had a crippling impact on his personal, family and professional life even 15 years later.  Making matters worse, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his wife was forced to stop work due to the nature of her work.

Greg explained that he could file a motion for reclassification of the felony as a misdemeanor under Penal Code § 17(b)(3) because Proposition 47 had reclassified certain felonies as misdemeanors, but one still had to request that a judge order such a reclassification of the charge.

Greg then sent the client a short questionnaire, asking him about the facts of the case and the client’s reasons for seeking a reduction of the felony to a misdemeanor.

The client responded, explaining that when arrested, he was not in an area known for drug sales, he had no pay-owe sheets (suggesting sales), he did not have a large amount of cash on hand (suggesting sales), he did not have a digital scale (suggesting scales), he only had one cell phone with him and he did not have any baggies to divide up the cocaine for sales.

Moreover, the client was cooperative with the Los Angeles Sheriffs arresting him and did not otherwise attempt to delay or obstruct the officers. 

The client simply wanted to return to being a bail bondsman so he could make more money for his family’s growing expenses.
His job working as a longshoreman did not earn him enough.

Greg Hill & Associates then prepared, filed and served the motion at the Norwalk Superior Court.  The judge assigned to the case set a hearing date and Greg attended it, wherein the judge granted the reduction of the felony to a misdemeanor under Penal Code § 17(b)(3), which also reinstated our client’s Second Amendment rights. 

The client was extremely happy with this result and said he felt free again to earn more money.

For more information about 17(b)(3) motions to reclassify a felony conviction as a misdemeanor, please click on the following articles:
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