Downgrading Charges to Misdemeanors Under Proposition 47

Downgrading Charges to Misdemeanors Under Proposition 47

Posted By: Arata Swingle Van Egmond & Goodwin on Feb 05, 2015

Recently, California voters passed Proposition 47 which allows people convicted of certain felonies to ask for their charges to be downgraded to misdemeanors. This applies to anyone who was charged with a certain felony, no matter when the crime was committed.


The crimes this applies to include:


  • Simple drug possession
  • Shoplifting
  • Theft
  • Bad-check writing
  • Forgery


These property crimes are only allowed to be downgraded if they involved a value under $950.


The law was passed so that fewer non-violent offenders are jailed each year. Less people in jail will save money, and that money will be put towards treatment and prevention programs to reduce the underlying causes of the crimes covered under Prop. 47.


Requesting a Downgrade


To request a downgrade of criminal charges, the defendant must submit a petition requesting a misdemeanor reduction to the court in which they were convicted. While a defendant can appear on behalf of him or herself, it is best to consult with a criminal defense attorney who can assist with the petition process for getting the conviction downgraded.


After the petition is received, the District Attorney’s office will research the defendant’s criminal background to ensure he or she is qualified for relief under Prop. 47. If the defendant has a criminal history with the following crimes, this will preclude a misdemeanor downgrade:


  • Murder
  • Sex crimes against children
  • Torture
  • Kidnapping for ransom


The above list is non-exhaustive. There are approximately 80 different serious crimes that can prevent an offender from gaining relief under Prop. 47.


If the offender is found to be eligible, he or she will be re-sentenced. However, prosecutors may believe that certain offenders are likely to commit another offense or if certain offenders have backgrounds that they deem “dangerous.” They are allowed to challenge a misdemeanor downgrade on these grounds.


If you have been charged with a crime that falls under Prop. 47 and would like to apply for a misdemeanor downgrade, engaging a criminal defense attorney can help move that process along. Additionally, if a prosecutor challenges the downgrade of your conviction, a criminal defense attorney is best positioned to help persuade the court as to why they should rule in your favor and not the government’s.


The attorneys at Arata, Swingle, Van Egmond & Goodwin have years of experience in criminal defense work. We take our clients’ cases very seriously, and we advocate aggressively for them in court. We work tirelessly to uphold the rights of each and every client who comes to us for help. 

To arrange an initial consultation, we welcome your call to our office at 209-522-2211.