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Expungement

We all make mistakes. We all do things we are ashamed or embarrassed by. But when that mistake results in a criminal record, it can destroy your hopes for the future. In today's economy, just one criminal conviction can make it hard to find employment or advance in your career. It weighs you down, destroys your hope, or just eats away at you with fear and embarrassment.

We have been devoted to helping people move on after a criminal conviction. We think this is good for you and good for society. When our law firm accepts your case, you can put your mind at ease. We handle every aspect of your expungement, from the very start to the very last court hearing.

In California, an Expungement is a legal process by which a criminal conviction is dismissed. A guilty plea, “no contest” plea or a finding of guilt by a judge or jury is set aside and the case is dismissed. An expungement relieves the defendant of certain penalties and disabilities that result from a criminal action. The arrest, prosecution and conviction records remain in the file and a notation is placed in the file that the conviction has been dismissed. The notation in the court file, the California Department of Justice and the FBI files reflect that a plea of not guilty has been entered and the case ordered to be dismissed by the court. As is commonly believed, an expungement does not seal or destroy your criminal records.

Our firm only deals with criminal convictions obtained in California. Other states, the military, and the federal government may have a similar procedure, but you must check with them to find out what is required.

In California, section 432.7 of the Labor Code, states "No employer, ..., shall ask an applicant for employment to disclose, ..., information concerning an arrest or detention that did not result in conviction, or information concerning a referral to, and participation in, any ... diversion program, nor shall any employer seek from any source whatsoever, or utilize, as a factor in determining any condition of employment including hiring, promotion, termination, ..., any record of arrest or detention that did not result in conviction, .... Nothing in this section shall prevent an employer from asking an employee or applicant for employment about an arrest for which the employee or applicant is out on bail or on his or her own recognizance pending trial...."

Find Out the Details of Your Convictions
In order to begin cleaning up your criminal record, you first need to know what is on your criminal record. The court will require you to fill out forms. Whether you are requesting a dismissal or a Certificate of Rehabilitation, you will need to know the details of your convictions(s) in order to complete the forms. Also, certain details will affect whether you are eligible. There are several details you will need to know in order to accomplish your goals:

  • Your Case Number(s) [Sometimes called docket number.]
  • Your Date(s) of Conviction(s) [The date of your plea or verdict.]
  • The Code Name(s) and Section Number(s) you were convicted of violating.
  • Was there a "Verdict" or did you "Enter a Plea"? If you Entered a Plea, was it "Guilty" or
  • "Nolo Contendere" (No Contest)?
  • Were you ordered to serve any time on "Probation"? If so, how long? [Formal andinformal
  • probation are treated the same.]
  • Were you ordered to pay any "Fines," "Restitution," or "Reimbursement"?
  • If you were sentenced to state prison, which one?
  • If you were sentenced to state prison, what date were you released?
  • If you were released on "Parole," what date did your parole end?

Get a Copy of Your Criminal Records Information
Your criminal records information can be obtained from a variety of sources. Below is a list of the sources most commonly used.

  • Your court papers received at the time of conviction.
  • The Superior Court where you were convicted. They will only have information for convictions from that county and not other counties. You will need to make a copy of your order(s) of judgment.
  • The California State Department of Justice , Criminal Records Division. They will have your criminal records information for the entire State of California. They are located at 4949 Broadway, First Floor Fingerprinting Office, Sacramento, California. Their phone number is (916) 227-3400. There is a fee, but you may be eligible for a fee waiver. You must provide written proof of your income. It may take several weeks for the record to arrive in the mail.

What You Can Do

Situation

You may be able to

What to do

You were convicted of a misdemeanor and are still on probation.

Request early release from probation and file petition to have conviction dismissed.

File a PC 1203.3 petition to have probation terminated early, and PC 1203.4 petition for expungement.

You were convicted of a misdemeanor and have successfully completed probation.

File petition to have conviction dismissed.

File PC 1203.4 petition for expungement.

You were convicted of a misdemeanor and were never given any probation at all.

File petition to have conviction dismissed.

File PC 1203.4a petition for expungement.

You were convicted of a felony and are still on probation.

Request early release from probation and file petition to have conviction reduced to misdemeanor and dismissed.

File a PC 1203.3 petition to have probation terminated early. File a PC 17(b) petition to get felony reduced, and PC 1203.4 petition for expungement.

You were convicted of a felony and are done with probation and/or county jail time.

File petition to have conviction reduced and dismissed.

File a PC 17(b) petition to get felony reduced, and PC 1203.4 petition for expungement.

You were convicted of a felony and were never given any probation at all and were sentenced to county jail.

File petition to have felony reduced to a misdemeanor and file petition to have conviction dismissed.

File a PC 17(b) petition to get felony reduced, and PC 1203.4a petition for expungement.

You were convicted of a felony and were sentenced to state prison or under the authority of the California Department of Corrections.

File a petition for Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon.

See requirements about this process, and the ten-year rule, under Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon.

Dismissals
If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony and were not sentenced to state prison or under the authority of the California Department of Corrections you can petition for a dismissal. This means you were given county jail time, probation, a fine, or a combination of those three. If you are petitioning for a dismissal, the court upon proper motion, may withdraw your guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) plea, or verdict of guilt if you went to trial, and enter a not guilty plea. Then the court will set aside and dismiss the conviction. From that point forward, you are considered no longer convicted of the offense. Your record will be changed to show a dismissal rather than a conviction.

Are You Eligible for a Dismissal?
You are eligible for dismissal of a conviction, and the court will dismiss your conviction, if:
You received probation for that conviction and: You successfully completed probation or obtained early release, You also have paid all the fines, restitution, and reimbursements ordered by the court as part of your sentence, You are not currently serving another sentence or on probation for another offense, AND You are not currently charged with another offense. You never received probation and: Your conviction was a misdemeanor,
It has been at least one year since the date you were convicted, You have complied fully with the sentence of the court, You are not currently serving another sentence, You are not currently charged with another offense, AND You have obeyed the law and lived an honest and upright life since the time of your conviction.

You are eligible for a dismissal and the court has the discretion (choice) to grant you that dismissal if:

You received probation but you did not get an early release, did not fulfill all the conditions of probation, or were convicted of any offense listed in Vehicle Code 12810(a) to (e) BUT:

You have paid all the fines, restitution, and reimbursements ordered by the court as part of your sentence, AND You are not currently charged with, on probation for, or serving a sentence on any other offense.

It’s up to the court to decide if your conviction should be dismissed, so make sure to give as much helpful information as possible to convince the court that granting you a dismissal is in the interests of justice.

Some Convictions are Not Eligible for Dismissal
If you were convicted of any of the following offenses you are not eligible for a dismissal under Penal code section 1203.4(a): Any misdemeanor within the provisions of Vehicle Code section 42001(b). Any violation of Penal Code section 286(c), 288, 288a(c), 288.5, or 289(j). A felony under Penal Code section 261.5(d). Any infraction.

Diversion
If you were referred to a "diversion" program, you record will already be changed in one of two ways. If you successfully completed all of the diversion program requirements, your record should already be changed to show a dismissal. If you didn't complete your requirements or were not actually given diversion, then the conviction will be on your record.

Marijuana Possession Offenses
If you were convicted of possession of marijuana for personal use then you do not necessarily need to get a dismissal for the offense. Under California Health and Safety Code Sections 11361.5 and 11361.7 all possession of marijuana for personal use convictions, after January 1, 1976, are erased from your record after two years. BE CAREFUL! The conviction cannot be for cultivation, sales or transportation. If it is, it will be on your record.

Juvenile Records
Your Juvenile records do appear on your criminal record. Upon your 18th birthday, you are eligible to petition to have your juvenile records sealed. Once sealed, no one can gain access to them and they will be completely destroyed five years from the date of sealing.

Juvenile records are not automatically sealed upon your 18th birthday. You must affirmatively petition the juvenile court to have them sealed. You can do this by filing out a form and filing it with the juvenile court in the county in which you were convicted. Contact the juvenile court in the county you were convicted, and ask them to send you a copy of the form used in that county. Check to see if they have any special filing requirements such as additional photocopies or the need to serve copies of the petition on any government agencies, and get the correct information for filing by mail. Usually, there is no fee.

If you graduated from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Justice , your juvenile conviction(s) will have been dismissed as part of your graduation. If you do not petition to have your juvenile records sealed and destroyed, they will remain on your record until your 38th birthday, then they will be destroyed.

What Will a Dismissal Do?
Once all of your convictions have been dismissed:

Applying for private employment: Under most circumstances, private employers cannot ask you about any convictions dismissed under Penal Code §1203.4. So, when applying for a job in the private sector, you generally do not have to disclose a conviction if it was dismissed or expunged. But, it is a good idea to read the Penal Code §1203.4 , the California Code Regs 7287.4(d) , and/or talk to the public defender in your county if you have questions about your rights and obligations regarding past convictions when applying for a job. Click here  to find the public defender.

Applying for government employment or a government license: On questions by Government Employers or Government Licensing Applications if you are asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you MUST respond with "YES-CONVICTION DISMISSED." In California, government employers and licensing agencies (except for police agencies and concessionaire licensing boards), will treat you the same as if you had never been convicted of any crime.

You will not be allowed to own or possess a firearm until you would otherwise be able to do so.

Your dismissed conviction(s) can still be used to increase your punishment in future criminal cases.

Your prior conviction(s) can still affect your driving privileges.

If you have been required to register as a sex offender as a result of a conviction, you have to make a different motion to the court in order to be relieved of this requirement. A dismissal will not relieve you of your duty to register as a sex offender.

Certificate of Rehabilitation
If you were sentenced to state prison or sentenced under the authority of the California Department of Corrections  you are not eligible for a dismissal under Penal Code Section 1203.4 or 1203.4a. You may, however, be eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. For eligibility and application requirements contact the Board of Parole Hearings , Post Office Box 4036, Sacramento, CA 95812-4036. If you are eligible, you must file a petition with the Superior Court where you were convicted.