How Many Felonies Can be Reduced to Misdemeanors

Navigating Felony Reduction in Oregon: Your Comprehensive Guide

Felony reduction is a legal process that can alleviate the burdens associated with a felony record. By reclassifying a felony conviction into a misdemeanor, individuals with most Class C or certain Class B felonies under Oregon law can experience a fresh start, even years after the original conviction.


When Can Felony Reduction be Considered?

Felony reduction is an excellent options for those with convictions ineligible for expungement, such as driving crimes. The process modifies the conviction's severity, reclassifying it as an A-level misdemeanor. By reducing a felony to a misdemeanor, you will find it easier to pass background checks that specifically scan for felony records.


What Felonies Can Be Reduced to Misdemeanors?


Felonies are serious criminal offenses that can result in severe penalties, including prison time and hefty fines. However, some felonies can be reduced to misdemeanors, which carry less severe consequences. These reductions may be possible through various legal processes such as felony reduction or felony to misdemeanor conversion.


Felony reduction is a legal process that allows individuals convicted of a felony to ask the court to reduce their conviction to a lesser offense, such as a misdemeanor. According to ORS 161.705, the court can enter a judgment of conviction for a Class A misdemeanor in certain situations. This may occur when an individual is convicted of a Class C felony.


Additionally, if an individual is convicted of a Class B felony or a Class A felony under ORS 166.720 and completes probation, the court may choose to enter a judgment for a Class A misdemeanor instead. The main factor in downgrading a felony to a misdemeanor is when the court deems that a felony conviction would be excessively severe in the given situation.


Oregon law allows the reclassification of a variety of felonies to misdemeanors. These include:

  • Leaving the scene of an accident (Hit & Run)
  • Operating a vehicle with a suspended license (Driving While Suspended)
  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Possessing a stolen vehicle
  • Numerous Class C felonies where no prison sentence was given, and probation wasn't revoked
  • Many Class B felony drug possession convictions


Furthermore, felony reduction isn't limited to vehicular crimes. It extends to most Class C felonies, some Class B drug possession felonies, and even Class A felony racketeering.


How Many Felonies can be Reduced to Misdemeanors?

The total number of felonies that can be reduced to misdemeanors is not explicitly restricted; however, the decision-making process is contingent upon several factors. A significant element under the purview of the court includes the defendant's criminal history, with a lesser or older record typically being more favorable. It's important to note that every case to be reduced necessitates an individual motion to the court and served on the District Attorney, and may require its own hearing due to the distinct nature of each case. Navigating this legal labyrinth may be challenging, but the expertise of a rights restoration attorney can prove invaluable. They can help determine which cases are most suitable for reduction and even strategize the sequence of requests to optimize the likelihood of successful outcomes.


The Legal Procedure for Felony Reduction in Oregon

The legal framework for felony reduction is based on Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 161.705. The process, which does not require a mandatory waiting period, involves filing a motion in the court where the original conviction was made, and serving the motion to the District Attorney.


The District Attorney may either oppose, agree with, or remain neutral to your motion. It's crucial to accurately present the defendant's history and narrative to provide the District Attorney and Judge with a comprehensive understanding of why the motion should be granted. You can count on the District Attorney conducting a thorough background check, so it is best if you have already done this for yourself and can address anything they will find. If the District Attorney agrees with the motion, the reduction may be approved without a hearing. However, if not, a hearing will likely be scheduled to present evidence and call witnesses.


A variety of factors, such as the defendant's history, character, and the nature of the original crime, influence the judge's decision. If the judge deems that retaining the felony record would be “unduly harsh,” they may agree to reduce the conviction to a misdemeanor.


A recent legislative change has unintentionally made individuals sentenced to prison, rather than probation, potentially ineligible for felony reduction.


Despite the benefits, it's important to note that felony reduction doesn't erase the conviction from your record. In some cases, expungement or reduction followed by expungement, which removes the criminal record completely, might be a more beneficial option. Therefore, it's crucial to consult with an expungement attorney before proceeding with a felony reduction.


Concealed Handgun License and Firearm Rights After a Felony Reduction?


Properly executed felony reductions can restore firearm rights, but not all do. The distinction often depends on whether the reduction is made by a judgment or an order, a detail frequently overlooked.


Acquiring a concealed handgun license after a felony reduction can present some challenges. Since the case was officially classified as a felony from the time of conviction until the time of reduction, when asked the question, "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?", the answer would be, "yes".


As a result, some Oregon sheriff's offices may deny a concealed handgun license after felony reduction. In such situations, the individual generally has two options: if eligible, expunge the crime, otherwise they can pursue a firearm rights restoration under ORS 166.274.

It's important to navigate these complexities with the help of an experienced rights restoration attorney to ensure you're making the best decisions and taking the correct steps.


After the Felony Reduction Proceedings in Oregon


Your case will still appear on background checks post-reduction because it remains part of your criminal history. However, it should be updated to a misdemeanor. A common pitfall is that the reduction information is not communicated to the Oregon State Police and other background check agencies, thus leaving it on your record as a felony. An attorney should help ensure these changes are correctly made.

At Lohrke Law, our responsibility in felony reduction cases is to help show that you qualify and demonstrate why the felony conviction should be reduced. We gather an accurate case history, including police reports and court records, and present your narrative in a compelling manner. When the case is completed we help ensure that the records are updated.