What Is Felony Reduction?

Felony reduction refers to the process of turning what was a felony conviction into a misdemeanor conviction. This legal process can be applied to most lower level or Class C felonies and some Class B felonies under Oregon law. Felonies can be eligible for felony reduction even years after the initial conviction.

When Should Felony Reduction Be Used?

Felony reduction is most useful for convictions that are ineligible for set aside or expungement. When a felony is reduced to a misdemeanor, the conviction remains on record but now shows as a minor infraction. This reduction takes a person out of convicted felon status and facilitates the passing of any background check that screens for a felony record.

Which Felonies Can Be Reduced to Misdemeanors?

Convictions that are eligible to be reduced to misdemeanors include:

  • Hit & Run
  • Driving with a suspended license
  • DUI
  • Possession of a stolen vehicle

Felony reduction is not limited to driving crimes. Most Class C felonies, along with some Class B drug possession and Class A felony racketeering are also potentially eligible for felony reduction.

The result of a felony reduction is that the conviction is converted to a misdemeanor. In other words, the person is no longer a felon. Reduction can be especially useful for driving crimes and other cases where expungement is not an option.

The law that allows felony reduction is ORS 161.705. There is no time limit or waiting period required before application. Reduction requires that a motion be filed with the court and served on the District Attorney in the court where the conviction occurred. Reduction can only be done for Oregon convictions.

The District Attorney may or may not oppose the reduction motion. It is important that the defendant’s story is accurately and appropriately told, so the District Attorney and Judge have a full understanding of why the request should be granted. If the District Attorney is in agreement with the motion, it might be granted without a hearing before the judge. If the District Attorney is opposed or takes no position, there will likely be a hearing where evidence can be presented and witnesses called.

The judge will consider the history and character of the defendant, but also the nature and circumstances of the original crime. The conviction will be reduced to a misdemeanor if the judge agrees that it is unduly harsh for the felony record to remain.

Due to what is, hopefully, a temporary wrinkle in the law, people who were sentenced to prison rather than probation as a result of a conviction might not be eligible for felony reduction at this time. We do not expect this situation to last because it appears to be an unintended consequence in how the law was recently changed. However, for the time being, if the person was sentenced to prison as a result of the conviction they are trying to reduce, they might not be eligible.

It is important to note that reduction leaves a conviction on your record. In many cases, expungement is a better option because it eliminates the criminal record altogether. Before deciding to file a motion to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor, expungement eligibility should be considered.

What Happens During a Felony Reduction Proceeding?

When we help people apply for felony reduction, it becomes incumbent on us to demonstrate that it would be unduly harsh for our client to continue to carry this felony conviction. The court will consider the nature of the crime, the terms of the conviction, the criminal and life history of the petitioner, and their overall character when making the decision of whether to allow felony reduction. Our job as legal counsel is to present the relevant information in an organized, accurate format that tells our client’s story and describes the reasons they deserve this relief from a felony conviction.

During this process, our lawyers will investigate the original conviction, examine the evidence as presented, and conduct a complete and thorough interview with our client to ensure we have all the information the court needs to make the just and proper decision. While an in-person hearing is sometimes required, and we remain prepared for the possibility, this is not always the case.

Let Lohrke Law Determine If You Are Eligible For Felony Reduction

In a single phone consultation, we can tell you whether you are eligible to reduce a felony conviction to a misdemeanor and what the cost would be.