In 1992, when our client was just eighteen, he and a few friends were exiting a freeway. Our client was driving. At the end of the freeway offramp, there was a person on foot selling flowers. Our client asked to look at the flowers.
The flower vendor handed our client the flowers and our client’s friends grabbed the flowers. The light then turned green and our client left without paying for the flowers, which were being sold that day for $7.
As our client drove away, the vendor wrote down our client’s license plate number and reported the incident to the police, who then met our client at his house, arresting him for felony theft from a person, then Penal Code § 487.2 (now Penal Code § 487(c)).
The client then resolved the case in the Chino Courthouse (now closed) for three years of felony probation, with an obligation to serve 150 days in county jail on weekends, plus perform 125 hours of community service and pay $7 in restitution to the victim.
While slowing completing his county jail obligation, he was then arrested for commercial burglary after he was caught stealing a car stereo from a stereo store, also in Rancho Cucamonga. The new case was filed in the Rancho Cucamonga Courthouse. At the time, our client had completed 68 days of jail on his Chino case.
The judge in the Chino case, upon being informed of the new case, revoked the client’s probation. Both the new case and the probation violation were resolved together, with the client agreeing to serve two years in state prison for both matters. He was released approximately one year later, in 1993.
Fast forward 28 years to the year 2021 and the client was 48 years old, with two adult children, a seven-year-old boy and a grandkid. The client was a crane operator for a large company whose name will remain confidential.
His employer had work in many locations, including on military bases. However, because of our client’s two felony convictions, he could not work on the bases, so someone else was assigned the lucrative work. Our client called many attorneys, asking if anything could be done to reduce the felonies to a misdemeanor. All the attorneys advised him that the felonies could not be reduced to a misdemeanor because he had served time in state prison.
One day he then called Greg Hill & Associates and spoke with Greg. The client explained his predicament and his hope to reduce the felonies to misdemeanors. The client explained that he had spoke with about five other criminal defense attorneys who all said that no judge would reduce the felonies to a misdemeanor because he served time in prison.
Greg said it could be done. Greg explained that his first case was originally resolved with probation and, but for picking up the second case, he would have been eligible for reduction of the felony to a misdemeanor. The second case was then resolved for state prison only because of the client already being on probation for the first. In other words, each case, evaluated separately was a misdemeanor based on its facts, but sentenced together became a state prison sentence.
Greg explained that he had made this argument before and that the judge’s obligation is to narrowly look at each case separately and on its merits. In a prior case, the judge had reduced the felony to a misdemeanor based on this analysis.
Greg cautioned, however, that some judges strictly follow the belief that a felony resolved by a prison term imposed is per se ineligible for relief, but there is no statute or case law that hold this. So, Greg explained that there would be no guarantee that the judge would approach the analysis as Greg urged, but the client at least knew it was possible and he had to try.
The client then retained Greg Hill & Associates and Greg prepared the first motion on the 487.2 matter to reduce it from felony to a misdemeanor under Penal Code § 17(b)(3). Greg argued that the court should solely look to the case facts and not the defendant’s record or other cases then pending.
Greg Hill & Associates then filed the motion in the Rancho Cucamonga Courthouse (which took over handling the Chino courthouse matters) and served the motion on the Rancho Cucamonga District Attorney’s office.
At the hearing on the motion, the client case to court with Greg. The judge granted the motion, which made the client extremely happy. He had brought his seven-year-old son to court with him and the son asked his dad why he was so happy. It was nice to hear the client explain how not having one felony gave him hope that the second felony would also be reduced to a misdemeanor, allowing him to work without limits.
For more information about Penal Code § 17(b)(3) issues, please click on the following articles: