Chris Brown, the popular Grammy-award winning artist, has become almost as well known for his legal troubles as he has for his music. Most recently, Brown faced felony assault charges following a fistfight with his bodyguard. While the charges against Brown have been reduced, he is still not out of trouble, as he remains on probation. The probation, in fact, was a reduction in sentencing after assaulting girlfriend Rihanna in a highly publicized altercation in 2009.
To some facing similar charges and penalties, having a reduction in charges while serving probation may be a good idea. But if you are facing a felony charge and would like information on whether it qualifies for a reduction to a misdemeanor, contacting a criminal defense attorney is the best first step.
California Penal Code 17(b)3 discusses the process by which a felony may be reduced. The first qualification is that the charge be considered a “wobbler”—that is, a crime that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. This wobbler status means that there is some prosecutorial and judicial discretion available. A criminal defense attorney may request leniency from the judge or prosecutors through a reduction in charges from a felony to a misdemeanor. This can be done while the person is already on probation or before probation is granted.
In the example from the news article above, Chris Brown was accused of a crime that qualified as a “wobbler,” namely, felony assault. He was already serving probation in lieu of prison, stemming from his 2009 conviction. Although reduced, the charges alone jeopardize Brown’s ability to remain out of jail. An arrest for any crime, even one that is a wobbler, would still harm the singer’s probation.
If you are facing a felony charge or you are serving probation for a felony conviction, contact a criminal defense attorney about your options for reducing the charge(s) to a misdemeanor.