In 1999, our client was 26 years old and terribly addicted to crack cocaine. He had run into multiple legal problems with finding money to fund his addiction, including even stealing from his family and friends, then later selling such items for cash. He once even took his mom’s car for that purpose.
On one evening in 1999, police were patrolling an alley that they knew was often used by crack users to buy and sell crack cocaine, but also to ingest crack. Officers found our client in the alley with about ten grams of crack cocaine in his pocket, as well as stolen property, and arrested him. The stolen property was his mom’s purse.
The purse was returned to his mom and our client was charged with violating California Health & Safety Code § 11350(a), possession of a controlled substance, then a felony. Our client entered a no contest plea to the 11350(a) count and the stolen property charge was dismissed. Our client was sentenced to sixteen months in state prison.
It merits mention that fifteen years later, with the passage of Proposition 47 in November 2014, California voters changed 11350(a) to a misdemeanor except for those convicted of a sex offense requiring registration and those with a “Super Strike” conviction (murder, attempted murder, etc.).
In 1999, however, 11350(a) was only a felony (not even a “wobbler”). Our client then served almost eight months of his sixteen-month sentence. When he was released, he got a job as a yard foreman for a trucking company located in Palmdale. He also became a regular attendee in Narcotics Anonymous meetings to help himself and others remain drug-free.
He worked in Palmdale for the trucking company for two years before transitioning to a job with a dairy, where he worked another ten years and gained his commercial driver’s license. While working at the dairy, he applied for jobs with Pepsi and Republic Services (a waste management company), but was turned away due to his felony record for the 11350(a) possession of crack cocaine conviction.
The client then got a job with a moving and storage company, which he labored at for eight years, but he felt trapped in low-paying jobs due to his felony conviction. He wanted to own a firearm, as well, so having his conviction reduced under Proposition 47 (Penal Code § 1170.18(f)) would not work due to the exclusion of this right being restored under 1170.18(k).
The client then called Greg Hill & Associates to ask if there was anything else he could do. Greg explained that if the 11350(a) was reduced under Penal Code § 17(b)(3), the firearm exclusion of 1170.18(k) would be avoided. The client’s felony would be reduced to a misdemeanor and he would have his firearm rights restored.
Greg warned the client that since he actually was sentenced to state prison and served time in state prison, rather than serving his sentence on probation, some judges regarded such convictions as ineligible for reduction to a misdemeanor. In other words, it was a more serious felony since the sentence was prison.
The client then hired Greg Hill & Associates to prepare, file, serve and then appear at the hearing on the Motion for Reclassification of a Felony to a Misdemeanor under Penal Code § 17(b)(3). The motion included a declaration from the client concerning his work history, as well as a discussion of continuing participation in Narcotics Anonymous meetings to help others overcome substance abuse problems.
Greg Hill & Associates then filed the motion and, once a hearing date was assigned, we served it on the District Attorney’s Office.
At the hearing, the District Attorney’s Office stated on the record that it had no objection to the relief sought in the motion, so the judge granted the motion.
Our client was extremely happy. He said he felt like a gigantic weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He knew, with his work experience, that he now qualified and eager to apply for many higher-paying supervisor jobs because he no longer was considered a convicted felon.
For more information about Penal Code § 17(b)(3) issues, please click on the following articles: