Our client, age 49, had three separate felony convictions for the sale of marijuana in two different courthouses. All three of the convictions arose from a two month period in late 1999 to early 2000. Two of the convictions were from the Torrance Superior Court, both for violation of Health and Safety Code § 11359 (transportation and sale of marijuana).
The third conviction was from the Inglewood Superior Court for a violation of Health and Safety Code § 11360 (sale of marijuana). This summary will only cover this third conviction.
The client’s wife contacted Greg Hill & Associates and discussed her husband’s three felonies. She explained that the convictions were never a problem for him having work, as he had been a commercial truck driver for almost twenty years with one employer. However, recently, the employer was purchased by another company and the new owner did criminal history reviews of all the employees, discovering her husband’s record and firing him.
Her husband had been unemployed ever since due to his record. The wife then discussed her husband’s three convictions and Greg explained that after passage of Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, each were “wobblers,” meaning they could be filed as misdemeanors or felonies.
However, with the client’s 11360 conviction, the judge court find that a felony level offense was proper and that it could not be reduced because under Health and Safety Code § 11360(a)(3)(A), the charge remains a felony punishable by two, three or four years if: 1) defendant had a prior conviction for a serious or violent felony (our client had neither); 2) defendant was a registered sex offender (our client was not); or 3) defendant had two prior convictions for 11359 (our client had this because of this two earlier conviction for violation Health and Safety Code § 11359 in Torrance.
Greg therefore recommended that the order of our reductions and requests for expungement place the Torrance felony convictions first so that the Inglewood judge could not find § 11360(a)(3)(A) applicable and deny the reduction of the third 11359 conviction. After all, Penal Code § 17(b)(3) states that reduction of the charge shall be “for all purposes.”
Our office then was retained and we filed the motions for reduction of the 11359 convictions in Torrance Superior Court first. Despite our client having served state prison for two years when the sentences on all three cases were consolidated, we argued that reduction under Penal Code § 17(b)(3) was appropriate because each case must be separately evaluated. The two judges in Torrance both agreed with this and reduced each conviction to a misdemeanor and ordered the convictions “expunged” under Penal Code § 1203.4.
Moving on to the Inglewood conviction for a felony violation of Health and Safety Code § 11360(a), our office prepared a very similar motion to the ones filed in Torrance. The motion included acknowledgement of the two-year prison sentence having been punishment but that the judge should evaluate each case separately and individually and if this were done, the facts suggested a misdemeanor level filing was more fitting.
The motion also included a declaration from our client explaining that he had been unemployed since the new employer discovered his two decades old conviction. The declaration also included information about his living with his two daughters, ages 13 and 17, who he had to support, as well as his two adult children, a son, age 22, and a daughter, age 24.
On the day of the hearing in the Inglewood court, our client attended in a modest suit accompanied by his wife.
The district attorney assigned to the motion was one that Greg had worked with on a very serious case in Torrance months earlier that had been featured in the television news and several newspaper articles. She and Greg had a rapport that was valuable because she did not feel the need to look too closely at the details of the motion. She trusted that the request was proper.
Her only concern was looking into our client’s criminal history since leaving prison and so she did a background search on him, finding no new arrests or cases since the case that was the subject matter of the motion.
The judge then called the motion and saw our client present in a suit and quite nervous. She was a new judge who deferred to the District Attorney quite a bit, so when the prosecutor said she had no opposition to the motion, the judge granted the motion.
Our client and his wife were extremely happy, as our client was no longer a convicted felon and all three convictions were expunged. It was like a new beginning for him and he was eager to apply for work again.
For more information about reducing a felony to a misdemeanor, please click on the following articles: