Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

Expungement California – How to Clear Criminal Records Under Penal Code 1203.4 PC

An expungement under California Penal Code 1203.4 PC allows you to withdraw a plea of guilty or no contest, to reenter a plea of not guilty, and to have the case dismissed. When the court grants it, an expungement releases you from many of the negative consequences of a criminal conviction.

The language of the code section states that:

1203.4. (a) (1) In any case in which a defendant has fulfilled the conditions of probation for the entire period of probation, or has been discharged prior to the termination of the period of probation, or in any other case in which a court, in its discretion and the interests of justice, determines that a defendant should be granted the relief available under this section, the defendant shall, at any time after the termination of the period of probation, if they are not then serving a sentence for any offense, on probation for any offense, or charged with the commission of any offense, be permitted by the court to withdraw their plea of guilty or plea of nolo contendere and enter a plea of not guilty; or, if they have been convicted after a plea of not guilty, the court shall set aside the verdict of guilty; and, in either case, the court shall thereupon dismiss the accusations or information against the defendant and except as noted below, the defendant shall thereafter be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which they have been convicted, except as provided in Section 13555 of the Vehicle Code.

Who is eligible to have a conviction expunged?

Expungement is available to you if you were convicted of either California misdemeanors or felonies provided that:

  • You have successfully completed probation for the offense, and
  • You either:
    • Did not serve time in state prison for the criminal case, or
    • Served time in state prison, but would have served it in the county jail had the crime been committed after implementation of “Realignment” under Proposition 47.1

Note that the California Department of Justice reviewed and sealed all past marijuana convictions that are no longer considered crimes now that recreational marijuana is legal. This process should have been done by July 1, 2020. See California Assembly Bill 1793 (2018).

What does a California expungement do?

Under Penal Code 1203.4, an expungement releases you from virtually “all penalties and disabilities” arising out of the conviction.2

One particular benefit is that an expunged conviction does not need to be disclosed to potential employers on job applications.

As it is, California’s ban the box law, AB 1008, bars employers from asking about your criminal record until there is a conditional offer of employment.

But once a conviction has been expunged under California law, it does not have to be disclosed to an employer even after the employer makes a conditional offer of employment.

Who is not eligible for an expungement in California?

You are not eligible for expungement if you:

  • are currently charged with a criminal offense,
  • are on probation for a criminal offense or
  • are serving a sentence for a criminal offense.

You are also not eligible for expungement if you are convicted of certain sex crimes involving children.

If you are not eligible for expungement, you may be able to get relief for your offenses through:

1. How the California expungement process works

An expungement is a form of post-conviction relief authorized by California Penal Code 1203.4 PC. It releases you from “all penalties and disabilities” arising out of a conviction.

As criminal defense attorney John Murray3 explains,

“In today’s economy — where finding a job is tougher than ever — you want to do everything in your power to make yourself the most desirable candidate.  Clearly, this includes being able to state that you have a clean criminal record–something that a PC 1203.4 expungement may allow you to do.”

Expungements are also beneficial for securing or maintaining California professional licenses and for joining many professional organizations.  Dismissal of an offense offers a “fresh start” from an otherwise criminal past.

1.1. Who is eligible to get a California expungement?

As a basic rule, Penal Code 1203.4 PC authorizes an expungement for a misdemeanor or expungement for a felony offense provided you:

  1. successfully completed probation (either felony probation or misdemeanor probation), and
  2. are not currently:
  • charged with a criminal offense,
  • on probation for a criminal offense, or
  • serving a sentence for a criminal offense.4

If you are applying for PC 1203.4 relief, you must have successfully completed probation in its entirety (or obtained an early termination of probation, discussed below).

What does it mean to “successfully complete probation”?

Successfully completing probation” means that you:

  1. completed all the terms of your probation (that is, paid all fines and restitution, completed any counseling programs, community service, etc.),
  2. attended all required court appearances (either personally or through an attorney), and
  3. did not commit any new crimes while on probation.

How does “realignment” affect eligibility under PC 1203.4?

If you went to California state prison — either at the time of judgment or because of a probation violation — you do not generally qualify for a PC 1203.4 expungement.

But there is an exception if you would have served your sentence in county jail if you had committed the crime after “realignment.” (For more information, please see the discussion on Penal Code 1203.42 in Section 1.4, below).5

Can prisoners who worked as firefighters through a prison fire camp get an expungement?

In many cases, yes. And you may be able to get your parole waived. Learn more here: California Assembly Bill 2147 (2020).

1.2. Who is NOT eligible to get a California expungement?

As noted above, a conviction cannot be expunged if you were sentenced to state prison UNLESS the crime is one for which you would now be sentenced to jail.

Beyond that, there are also certain felony offenses that can never be expunged. These include serious sex offenses committed against children, such as

1.3. Can I get an expungement if I violated (or didn’t satisfy) my probation?

It is generally true that you must have successfully completed all conditions of probation to be granted an expungement.

But even if you received a probation violation, all hope is not lost. The court will hold a special hearing to determine whether you are nonetheless a good candidate for expungement.7

The court’s discretion to dismiss a conviction

In the wake of a probation violation, the court has wide discretion as to whether to grant or deny a petition for a PC 1203.4 expungement. Factors that the judge may consider include (but are not limited to):

  • your overall performance while on probation,
  • the seriousness of the underlying conviction,
  • your criminal history, and
  • any additional evidence that shows why you are deserving of this relief, such as
    • opportunity to obtain a good job,
    • support of the applicant’s family,
    • strong community ties, etc.

1.4. What if I could have been sentenced to county jail under Prop 47 realignment?

If you were convicted and sentenced to state prison, you may still be able to expunge a conviction. You are eligible if you would have been sentenced to jail for the crime had it been committed after 2011’s Proposition 47 Realignment legislation.

This exception is found in California Penal Code 1203.42 PC. Relief under Penal Code 1203.42 is not automatic but may be granted by a court, in its discretion. Judges can grant the expungement if they believe it would be in the interests of justice.

To qualify under PC 1203.42, the crime must have been one currently punishable in county jail AND:

  • at least two years have passed since you completed your sentence, and
  • you are not:
    • under supervised release for a crime,
    • serving a sentence for any offense,
    • on probation for any offense, or
    • charged with the commission of any crime.

How do I obtain an expungement under PC 1203.42?

The expungement process in California starts by filing a petition with the court under Penal Code 1203.42. You may make the application:

  • in person,
  • by an attorney, or
  • by a probation officer authorized in writing.

The court may then either:

  1. Permit you to withdraw your plea of guilty or “nolo contendere” (no contest) and enter a plea of not guilty, or,
  2. If you have been convicted after a plea of not guilty, set aside the verdict of guilty.

In either case, the court will then dismiss the accusations against you. Afterward, you will be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense to the same extent as a regular expungement under PC 1203.4.

2. How do I expunge a criminal record in California?

Expunging criminal records in California requires the following five steps:

The expungement process is confusing and time- and paperwork-intensive. There are many opportunities for error that could get an application denied. But experienced criminal defense attorneys know how to streamline the process and get it right on the first try.

Step 2: Fill out the proper forms

A criminal defense attorney knows which forms to use for each situation. Otherwise, most expungement application forms are available at the relevant courthouse or through an internet search.

For example, if you completed misdemeanor probation, you would fill out a petition to dismiss a misdemeanor under PC 1203.4. If probation has not been completed, you would instead fill out a motion to terminate probation. And if that is denied, you would fill out a petition for dismissal.

Note that felonies cannot be expunged until they get reduced to misdemeanors. Courts usually grant requests to reduce wobblers (crimes that can be felonies or misdemeanors) down to misdemeanors.

But non-wobbler felonies can only be reduced to a misdemeanor by filling out a form pursuant to PC § 17(b)(3). Only then can you fill out a petition to dismiss a misdemeanor under PC 1203.4.

Also note that you must fill out one form for each conviction to be expunged. You can also include character references with the expungement petition.

Step 3: File for expungement

Once the proper forms are filled out, they must be filed with the court where the case was heard. The court will usually respond within five months.

Every court has its own policies and fees. Sometimes expungement forms must be delivered in person or mailed.

Timely filing paperwork is critical. For example, you must provide the prosecutor with at least 15 days’ notice prior to the hearing. This is to give the prosecutor an opportunity to review the case and object if desired.

If you are indigent, you may be able to get financial assistance to cover the filing fees.

Step 4: Prepare for the expungement hearing

Whether you have to appear at your expungement hearing depends on the case. Your criminal defense attorney will keep you informed and help prepare for the hearing if necessary.

Ultimately, the judge makes the decision whether to grant an expungement. There is no jury. You are more likely to get an expungement if you:

  • are able to hold down a job,
  • had no additional convictions, and
  • have completed all required community service.

Step 5: Refile if the petition is denied. Seal the expungement if the petition is granted.

If the judge denies the expungement, after six months you can file a new petition with any required changes.

If the judge grants the expungement, the defense attorney should then seal the case so it is no longer visible to the public. And you can deny ever having a criminal record in most situations. Some exceptions are if you:

  • run in public elections,
  • apply for a state license, or
  • seek employment with the California Lottery Commission.

2.1. What an expungement can do

There are numerous benefits to obtaining a California expungement. Some of the most significant include:

  • An employer may not discriminate against your job application based on expunged convictions9;
  • Easier to obtain a state professional license;
  • Expunged convictions can’t be used to impeach your credibility as a witness in court (unless you are the defendant being prosecuted in the subsequent case);10 and
  • In some cases, helping avoid certain immigration consequences such as deportation.

Limitations on the disclosure of expunged convictions to potential employers

The value of a PC 1203.4 expungement has increased significantly in recent years.

This is because, in the past, your criminal history was unlikely to be discovered by anyone but law enforcement.

But then information companies began indexing criminal court records into vast national databases that could be searched by name and date of birth.

This new technology allows:

  • potential employers,
  • licensing agencies, and
  • professional organizations

to conduct a background check and find a criminal record in moments.

This is where the benefits of an expungement come into play. It is easy now for potential employers to find out about a past criminal conviction.

But legally if a conviction has been expunged, they may not use it to deny you employment.

2.2. What an expungement will NOT do

Unfortunately, there are several limitations on what an expungement under California Penal Code 1203.4 PC can do. For example, an expungement will not:

Expunged convictions may also still be used as prior convictions to enhance sentencing. For instance, an expunged DUI conviction still counts as a prior if you are later arrested for another DUI.

And an expunged conviction that would count as a “strike” for purposes of California’s three-strikes law is still a strike.14

How to obtain the relief an expungement cannot grant

Additional rights can often be restored through alternative avenues of post-conviction relief.

These include:

  • A California Certificate of Rehabilitation, and/or
  • A California Governor’s Pardon15

2.3. When can I apply for a PC 1203.4 expungement?

If you are eligible under PC 1203.4, you may petition the court to expunge a conviction on the earlier of:

  • completion of probation, or
  • early termination of probation (which must be granted by a court).

(Note that if you qualify under PC 1203.42, you may only petition the court if at least two years have passed since the completion of your sentence).

Can I petition for early termination and expungement at the same time?

Many times, a California criminal defense lawyer can expedite the expungement process by “packaging” a number of motions into one.

The most common example of such packaging includes asking the court in a single proceeding to:

  • grant an early termination of probation (which the court has the option of granting as long as the petitioner is in compliance with the terms of his or her probation),
  • reduce a felony to a misdemeanor (in cases where the felony offense is classified as a “wobbler” — that is, a charge that the district attorney could have filed as either a felony or a misdemeanor), and
  • expunge a conviction.

2.4. What is the difference between expungement and sealing/destroying records?

Many people who contact us about expungements also wish to “seal and destroy” adult and juvenile criminal records.

Sealing and destroying arrest records per SB 383 is a totally different process from expunging records of criminal convictions under PC 1203.4.

You are entitled to have a California arrest record sealed and destroyed if:

  1. you were arrested, but the prosecutor never filed criminal charges, or
  2. the case was dismissed in court, or
  3. you were acquitted by a jury following a jury trial, or
  4. the conviction was overturned and dismissed on appeal, or
  5. you successfully completed a program of diversion, such as Prop 36 drug diversion or Penal Code 1000 deferred entry of judgment,16

Sealing an arrest record generally allows you to state that you have never been arrested for a crime. This is because in order to seal a record the judge must declare you factually innocent.

Sealing a juvenile arrest record

Sealing a California juvenile court record provides you with the same benefits as sealing an adult record. You may seal a juvenile arrest record if:

  1. you are currently an adult, or the jurisdiction of the juvenile court terminated at least five years ago,
  2. as an adult, you have not been convicted of any crimes of moral turpitude (that is, a crime involving dishonesty or immoral behavior), AND
  3. there is no pending civil litigation based on the juvenile incident.

Once the judge grants the motion to seal and destroy a juvenile arrest record it is sealed for 3 years and destroyed thereafter.17

3. Frequently Asked Questions about California Expungement Law

Q. How long will my criminal record stay on the books after I get an expungement?

A. Criminal records are maintained indefinitely even if a conviction was expunged under Penal Code 1203.4 PC. Criminal records do not automatically go away after a certain amount of time.

If the court doesn’t expunge or seal and destroy the record(s), the conviction(s) will always be a part of your criminal record.


Q. Who can access my criminal record after I get an expungement?

A. Criminal records are “public records.” So anyone can access a criminal record even after a PC 1203.4 expungement — unless the record is sealed.

People who often access criminal records include:

  • potential employers,
  • landlords, and
  • licensing agencies.

Q. What happens when I expunge my record?

A. In California, when a record is expunged, a plea of guilty or no-contest (or a conviction after trial) gets set aside by a judge. You then enter a new plea of “not guilty” and the judge dismisses the case.18


Q. How long does it take to expunge my record?

A. Generally, we can have a PC 1203.4 petition filed and heard within one to two months. But this can vary depending on the county in which you reside.

In cases where you are actively seeking employment, we can seek to expedite the process.


Q. How do I find out if I qualify to have my record expunged?

A. Generally, you qualify for an expungement under Penal Code 1203.4 if you:

  1. committed a felony or misdemeanor and were not incarcerated in the California state prison,
  2. fulfilled the terms of your probation, and
  3. were not convicted of one of the specific crimes that make you ineligible to receive a California expungement.19

But, to make sure, contact a California criminal defense attorney.


Q. What is “felony reduction”?

A. If you were convicted of a “wobbler” (that is, a crime that can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor), you can generally petition to reduce the felony conviction to a misdemeanor.20


Q. Will you reduce my felony to a misdemeanor prior to expunging the record?

A. Yes. If your conviction was for a wobbler, we will petition the court to have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor prior to having it expunged under PC 1203.4. We will also ask for an early termination of probation where appropriate.


Q. Does it cost more to have my felony reduced BEFORE expungement?

A. No. The price is the same. Reducing the felony first just expedites the process.


Q. Do I have to appear in court?

A. Generally not.  The California expungement process typically allows a lawyer to appear on your behalf through all stages of the proceedings.21


Q. What is the filing fee for a California expungement?

A. It varies, depending on

  1. the county in which you reside, and
  2. whether you were convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony.

For example, Los Angeles County doesn’t charge a filing fee per se, but will charge a maximum of $120 once the court rules on the motion. San Bernardino County charges a $270 filing fee. San Diego County charges a petition fee of $60 for a misdemeanor and $120 for a felony.

All counties have some type of financial assistance available if you are unable to pay.


Q. How will I know that my California criminal record was expunged?

A. We provide you with a signed order by a California Superior Court Judge setting aside the conviction and dismissing the case.


Q. After my record is expunged, can I answer “No” if I’m asked whether I have a criminal record?

A. Yes. This is one of the benefits of obtaining a PC 1203.4 California expungement. Once the court grants an expungement, you can legally answer “no” if asked about a criminal record UNLESS:

  1. You are applying to become a peace officer or run for public office,
  2. You are applying to work for the California Lottery Commission, or
  3. You are applying for a state license.22

Q. Will expunging my record help me find a better job?

A. Many times, yes.  If the employer doesn’t run a background check, they will probably never find out about the conviction. Remember — you no longer have to disclose any conviction unless and until the employer makes a conditional offer of employment.

But even if an employer does conduct a background check, it will show if a conviction was expunged. This will tell the potential employer that a California court has said you are ready to make a “fresh start”.


Q. Will expunging my record help me obtain a state license?

A. Often times, yes. Many California state licensing authorities require expungement of a conviction under Penal Code 1203.4 PC before they will issue a license.

But even when an expungement is not enough, we may be able to help you obtain a “Certificate of Rehabilitation,” which offers even more benefits.23


Q. What is a “Certificate of Rehabilitation”?

A. A Certificate of Rehabilitation (“COR”) is a court order stating you have been rehabilitated from your criminal past.24

You must wait between seven (7) and ten (10) years after being released from custody, depending on the specific offense for which you were convicted.25

There are many benefits to a Certificate of Rehabilitation, including:

  1. A certificate of rehabilitation becomes an automatic application for a Governor’s Pardon;
  2. You cannot be denied a state license without other cause;
  3. A COR sends a message to prospective employers that you have overcome your criminal history and are prepared to make a fresh start.

But remember — an expungement or COR is not necessary for an arrest that did not result in a conviction. Employers (and prospective employers) may not discriminate against you based simply on arrests. In fact, they aren’t even legally allowed to inquire about them.26


Q. What is a Governor’s Pardon?

A. A Governor’s Pardon is the ultimate relief from the penalties and disabilities associated with a criminal conviction.27

You must usually wait at least ten (10) years after being discharged from probation or parole in order to apply to the governor for a pardon. Or you must obtain a finding of factual innocence (discussed above under section 2. sealing and destroying records).28

If you receive a Certificate of Rehabilitation, you may apply for a pardon in as little as seven (7) years after release from custody. This is because a COR acts as an automatic application for a pardon.


Q. What are my options for sealing and destroying my California arrest records after I get an expungement?

A. There are a number of ways to seal records. The most common are:

  1. sealing of juvenile records,
  2. sealing of arrest records, and
  3. sealing of records after plea withdrawal and case dismissal.

Juvenile arrest records

In order to be eligible for sealing a juvenile record, two criteria must be met:

  1. The juvenile court jurisdiction must have terminated at least five years ago.
  2. You must not have suffered a conviction for a crime of moral turpitude (that is a dishonest or immoral crime) as an adult.29

But even if these two criteria have been met, certain serious crimes cannot be sealed.30 These crimes include:

  • murder,
  • robbery and
  • child molestation.

Sealing of records generally

Except as set forth above, sealing an arrest record is generally possible if

  1. You were arrested and no accusatory pleading was filed,
  2. The DA dismissed the case, or
  3. You were found “not guilty” after a California jury trial.31

Also, if you prove that you were factually innocent of the charges, the arrest record will be ordered sealed for 3 years and destroyed thereafter.32


Q. I have a felony and can’t get a green card or citizenship. Can you help me?

A. Many times, yes. We are often able to get a non-U.S. citizen’s wobbler felony reduced to a misdemeanor. This makes you eligible for permanent residency and ultimately U.S. citizenship. Or we may be able to get a conviction set aside completely.

Once we review the facts and circumstances of your case, we research the most promising options to help avoid immigration issues such as deportation or removal.


Q. I am required to register as a sex offender pursuant to California Penal Code 290 PC.  Can an expungement help me obtain relief from my lifetime duty to register as a sex offender and get off Megan’s list?

A. No.  A California Penal Code 1203.4 PC expungement cannot provide this type of relief. But a Certificate of Rehabilitation and Governor’s pardon often can, as long as the conviction was not for a sex crime against a child.33

source


What Is California Penal Code 1203.4?

California Penal Code (CPC) 1203.4 outlines the legal process for expungement of certain criminal convictions in California.

“Expungement” means a criminal conviction is set aside or dismissed after completing certain criteria (e.g., probation).

It allows you to legally state that you weren’t convicted of the offense, which can help improve job prospects, secure or maintain professional licenses, and join certain organizations.

Who Is Eligible for a 1203.4 Expungement (California)?

Under California Penal Code Section 1203.4, you’re eligible for expungement if:

  • You’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony and successfully completed probation.
  • You’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony and weren’t placed on probation — in this case, you can only petition one year after the date of conviction.

To clarify, you need to meet all terms to “successfully complete probation,” including:

  • Paying fines and restitution
  • Completing counseling programs, community service, etc.
  • Attending all court appearances
  • Not committing new crimes while on probation

Also, to be eligible, you can’t currently be:

  • Charged with a criminal offense
  • On probation for a criminal offense
  • Serving a sentence for a criminal offense

What Crimes Are Not Eligible for Expungement in California?

If you were sentenced to state prison, you generally don’t qualify for expungement under CPC 1203.4.

In addition, some criminal offenses can never be expunged, including sex crimes against children like:

  • Sodomy with a Minor (Penal Code Section 286(c))
  • Lewd and Lascivious Acts with a Minor (Penal Code Section 288)
  • Oral Copulation with a Minor (Penal Code Section 288a(c))
  • Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with a Minor (Penal Code Section 261.5(d))

9 Benefits of Getting an Expungement of Criminal Records in California

Everyone eligible for expungement under CPC 1203.4 or 1203.4a should petition for it.

This is because having a clean criminal record comes with several benefits:

  1. It helps with employment — you won’t have to disclose your conviction on job applications.
  2. It forbids employers from discriminating against you due to your criminal records.
  3. It may make it easier to get state professional licenses.
  4. It may reduce barriers to immigration and related issues.
  5. You’ll regain certain civil rights, like the right to vote and serve on a jury.
  6. It’ll improve your eligibility for government assistance programs.
  7. It’ll boost your eligibility for housing and rental applications.
  8. It’ll reduce the negative social stigma that comes with having a criminal record.
  9. It makes it easier to adopt a child.

4 Things CPC 1203.4 Does NOT Do

There are several benefits to getting your criminal records expunged under CPC 1203.4, but it isn’t a silver bullet. You’ll still have some limitations that come with a past conviction:

  1. Record expungement won’t lift driving privilege restrictions or reinstate a suspended or revoked driver’s license.
  2. It won’t restore your gun rights in California if your conviction prevents firearm ownership.
  3. It won’t exempt you from registering as a sex offender under Penal Code Section 290.
  4. If you’re charged in the future, your expunged conviction will still count as a prior conviction and may increase your sentence.

You’ll have to address these limitations through other means. Your gun rights can be restored with a Governor’s Pardon, for example.

4 Steps to Expunge Your Criminal Records under California Penal Code 1203.4

To expunge your criminal records under CPC 1203.4, you need to take the following four steps:

1. Hire an Attorney

The expungement process is complex and paperwork-heavy. Most people end up making mistakes that lead to their petitions being denied.

2. Fill Out the Required Forms

A criminal defense attorney knows which forms to use. You can find most of these documents at your local courthouse or on the internet:

  • Use the PC 1203.4 petition form for misdemeanors with completed probation.
  • File a motion to terminate probation for uncompleted probation — if that’s denied, you need to fill out a petition for dismissal.

Felonies need to be reduced to misdemeanors before being expunged. You can request a court to reduce your wobbler offense.

For non-wobbler offenses, you need to fill out a form under PC § 17(b)(3) before petitioning for dismissal under PC 1203.4.

3. File for Expungement

After filling out the correct forms, you need to file them with the court where your case was heard.

Every court has its own policies and fees — this is where things get tricky:

  • You may have to deliver the forms in person or through the mail.
  • There are various deadlines to deliver subsequent paperwork.
  • The prosecutor will review your paperwork and my object.

4. Prepare for Your Expungement Hearing

Not everyone has to appear at their expungement hearing. Your defense attorney can help you prepare if needed.

If the judge grants your petition, you need to seal the case to hide it from the public — your defense attorney can do this for you.

If your petition was denied, you can file a new one six months later.

FAQs About California Penal Code 1203.4 (Expungement)

1. What Does “Dismissed per 1203.4” Mean?

In practical terms, “dismissed per 1203.4” means your conviction has been set aside, and you can legally state that you weren’t convicted of the offense.

2. How Do I Get a Dismissed Case off My Record in California?

To get a dismissed case off your record in California, you need to petition the Superior Court that has jurisdiction over your case and file a copy of the petition with the DA’s office.

3. How to Find a Qualified Expungement Attorney in California?

The best way to find a qualified expungement attorney in California is to look at the attorney’s experience and client reviews.

4. Can All Misdemeanors Be Expunged in California?

In California, nearly all misdemeanors can be expunged aside from some Vehicle Code violations and other rare exceptions.

5. What Is Considered a Misdemeanor in California?

A misdemeanor is any offense punishable by fines, probation, community service, or up to one year in county jail.

6. How Long Before You Can Expunge a Felony in California?

We can help you start the felony expungement process once you complete all terms of probation. If you didn’t receive probation, we can begin one year from the date of your conviction.

7. How Much Does It Cost to Get Your Record Expunged in California?

The cost of getting your record expunged in California varies depending on several factors, such as:

  • The complexity of your case
  • Filling fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Notary fees
  • Whether you’re eligible for financial assistance

8. How Long Does It Take to Expunge a Misdemeanor in California?

The time it takes to expunge a misdemeanor in California varies, depending on factors like the specific court’s caseload. It usually takes us two to four months to complete the entire process.

9. Will I Have to Attend a Court Hearing to Get My Records Expunged?

In most cases, a court hearing isn’t necessary. If a hearing is scheduled, we can almost always handle all court appearances for you.

10. What Happens If My Expungement Request Is Denied?

If your expungement request is denied, consulting with an attorney is essential. We can review your case and advise you on whether appealing the judge’s decision or reapplying at a later time is the best course of action.

11. How Do You Check If Your Record Has Been Expunged?

The easiest way to check if your criminal record has been expunged is to visit the court where your case was handled and ask to see the records. If the court tells you they don’t have your records, it means they were expunged.

12. Can Employers See Expunged Records (California)?

Typically, employers can’t see expunged records on a standard background check.

13. Do I Have to Disclose Expunged Records in California?

Generally, you don’t have to disclose expunged records in California. Exceptions include:

  • Applying for law enforcement or government agency jobs
  • Dealing with certain immigration matters
  • Applying for a state license
  • Running in public elections
  • Applying for a license, contract, or job with the State Lottery Commission

14. Can Police See Expunged Records in California?

Expunged records are inaccessible to general law enforcement. Under exceptional situations, they may be retrieved and used; but it typically requires a court order or statutory authorization.

15. Does 1203.4 Restore Gun Rights?

Expungement under 1203.4 does not restore gun rights if your conviction disqualified you from owning firearms (e.g., you were convicted of a violent felony such as murder, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, etc.).

16. Can You Become a Police Officer with an Expunged Felony in California?

Technically, you can become a police officer with an expunged felony in California, but it’s very unlikely you’ll qualify. Talk to the police department you want to apply for to find out what their policy is.

17. What Is the Difference Between 1203.4 and 1203.4 A?

As we mentioned above, CPC 1203.4 focuses on expungement after probation.

California Penal Code 1203.4a allows you to petition to have infractions and misdemeanors with no probation expunged from your record one year after the conviction date.

18. What Is the Difference Between a Pardon and an Expungement in California?

An expungement under CPC 1203.4 seals your criminal conviction — for most purposes, it’s as if it never happened.

A pardon restores certain rights such as firearm and voting rights. However, your records will still show in background checks.

20. What Is the New Law for Expungement in California 2023?

The new law for expungement in California — SB 731 — is a transformative bill for those living with the consequences of having a criminal record. It came into effect on July 5, 2023.

Get a Second Chance at Life: Expunge Your Criminal Records with Legal Help

source

 

What is the new leaf program ?


EXPUNGEMENT OF CRIMINAL RECORDS IN CALIFORNIA – PENAL CODE 1203.4 PC

Criminal Defense Lawyers Helping People Expunge Convictions From Their California Criminal Record

How to Expunge Criminal Records in California – Penal Code 1203.4 PC

A PC 1203.4 expungement of criminal record is an option for defendants who have successfully completed probation.

Expungement of criminal records in California in covered under Penal Code Section 1203.4. If you have been convicted of a crime, it’s typically very difficult to find a job and move forward with your life.

Most employers and landlords now routinely run background checks, which will reveal your past criminal history.

This clearly means if you have been convicted of crime, getting your criminal record expunged can have a impact on your quality of life.

So, what exactly does it mean to have your criminal record expunged?

In basic terms, it releases you from the penalties associated with your criminal conviction, meaning a potential employer in theory is prohibited from using your past conviction against you in their hiring decision or even asking you about it in the job interview.

Therefore, an expungement, pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.4, can be an important step to make sure your life is not permanently impacted by a past criminal conviction.

It’s important to stop here for a moment and make a very critical note that California has no legal process for an actual expungement, which would completely seal a criminal conviction.

Most people incorrectly refer to a section 1203.4 dismissal as an expungement, believing their past conviction will be removed or erased from their record, known as a rap sheet..

This is a common myth and false. Instead, when a 1203.4 dismissal is granted, the court will vacate your conviction and enter a dismissal notation on your.

Once your conviction is dismissed, you can truthfully answer on an employment application that you have never been convicted of a crime.

However, many background checks will still show the conviction and dismissal, but the law prohibits an employer from using a dismissed conviction against you in hiring decisions.

See related information: Reduce a Felony Conviction to Misdemeanor and Early Termination of Probation in California.

If you were convicted of a crime in California and are seeking an expungement, call a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Eisner Gorin LLP.

Our attorneys will need to closely review the details of your conviction in order to determine eligibility and legal options.

Expunged criminal records can certainly have an impact on your ability to obtain a job.

Now that we have covered the basic concept of an expungement, let’s take a closer look below.

CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE SECTION 1203.4 – EXPUNGEMENT

A California expungement of criminal records under Penal Code Section 1203.4 is an option for defendants convicted of either misdemeanors or felonies that have successfully completed probation and not served time in state prison.

The legal definition states, in part:

  • In any case in which a defendant has fulfilled the conditions of probation, or in any other case in which a court, in its discretion in the interests of justice, determines that a defendant should be granted the relief, the defendant shall be permitted by the court to withdraw their plea of guilty or plea of nolo contendere and enter a plea of not guilty; or if they were convicted after a plea of not guilty, the court shall set aside the verdict of guilty and dismiss the accusations against the defendant and shall thereafter be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which they were convicted.

This means you are eligible to petition the court to get your criminal records expunged once you have completed your entire probationary period.

If the court decides to terminate your probation before the end of the probationary period, you can petition for an expungement when the probation ends.

If you were convicted of a misdemeanor offense or an infraction and not granted probation, you can petition to have your criminal record expunged after one year the court issued judgment.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR A CALIFORNIA EXPUNGEMENT?

The following categories of people are eligible to expunge their criminal record under California under Penal Code Section 1203.4:

  • If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense and have successfully completed probation, then you can petition the court to have the conviction dismissed; You will need to petition the court to have certain felony convictions reduced to a misdemeanor before being dismissed;
  • If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense and never placed on probation, you can petition the court to have the conviction dismissed after one year from the date of conviction.

It’s important to note that successfully completing probation means you completed all the terms of your probation, including paying all fines, restitution, completed any counseling programs, community service, attended all required court appearances, and did not commit any new crimes while you were on probation.

In some cases, even if you violated the terms of your probation, it might be possible to still have your record expunged.

The court will hold a hearing in order to determine whether to grant your request for an expungement.

Call a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at our law office if you have any questions about expungement eligibility.

WHO IS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR A CALIFORNIA EXPUNGEMENT?

If you were sent to a California state prison sentence, you can’t expunge your criminal record.

Additionally, there are certain criminal offenses that can’t be expunged. This includes some sex crimes against children, including:

  • California Penal Code Section 286(c) – Sodomy with a Minor,
  • California Penal Code Section 288 – Lewd and Lascivious Acts with a Minor,
  • California Penal Code Section 288a(c) – Oral Copulation with a Minor,
  • California Penal Code Section 261.5(d) – Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with Minor.

WHAT IMPACT CAN AN EXPUNGEMENT HAVE ON MY LIFE?

Typically, one of the most significant impacts on your life after a California expungement is helping you obtain employment.

In many cases, you do not have to disclose a criminal conviction on an employment application and an employer is prohibited from discriminating against you for having your record expunged.

An expungement may also help you obtain a state professional license and could even help you avoid immigration issues.

After your conviction has been expunged from your record, it will still show you were arrested and convicted, but the conviction was dismissed in the interest of justice.

This is not the same as a factual innocence motion.

WHAT A PENAL CODE SECTION 1203.4 DISMISSAL DOES NOT DO

After your California conviction has been dismissed under PC 1203.4, there are some limitations on what it can do for you, including:

  • If your conviction resulted in any driving privilege restrictions, a dismissal will not change the restrictions;
  • A dismissal will not reinstate a suspended or revoked driver’s license;
  • If you conviction prevents you from owing or possessing a firearm, a dismissal will not restore your California gun rights;
  • A dismissal will not end your legal obligation to register as a California sex offender under Penal Code Section 290;
  • If you are convicted on another criminal offense in the future, your dismissal can still be used as a prior conviction to enhance sentencing;

In some cases, the issues listed above could possibly be resolved through other avenues of post-conviction relief, including a California Certificate of Rehabilitation or a California Governor’s Pardon. source

 


Cleaning Up Your Record

Penal Code 851.8 PCCertificate of Factual Innocence in California

SB 393: The Consumer Arrest Record Equity Act – 851.87-851.92  & 1000.4-11105 – CARE ACT

Expungement California – How to Clear Criminal Records Under Penal Code 1203.4 PC

Cleaning Up Your Criminal Record in California (focus OC County)

Governor Pardons Click Here for the Details

How to Get a Sentence Commuted (Executive Clemency) in California

How to Reduce a Felony to a Misdemeanor – Penal Code 17b PC Motion


PENAL CODE – PEN 1203.4 

PART 2. OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE [681 – 1620]

  ( Part 2 enacted 1872. )

  TITLE 8. OF JUDGMENT AND EXECUTION [1191 – 1233.12]

  ( Title 8 enacted 1872. )

  CHAPTER 1. The Judgment [1191 – 1210.6]

  ( Chapter 1 enacted 1872. )

(a) (1) When a defendant has fulfilled the conditions of probation for the entire period of probation, or has been discharged prior to the termination of the period of probation, or in any other case in which a court, in its discretion and the interest of justice, determines that a defendant should be granted the relief available under this section, the defendant shall, at any time after the termination of the period of probation, if they are not then serving a sentence for an offense, on probation for an offense, or charged with the commission of an offense, be permitted by the court to withdraw their plea of guilty or plea of nolo contendere and enter a plea of not guilty; or, if they have been convicted after a plea of not guilty, the court shall set aside the verdict of guilty; and, in either case, the court shall thereupon dismiss the accusations or information against the defendant and except as noted below, the defendant shall thereafter be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which they have been convicted, except as provided in Section 13555 of the Vehicle Code. The probationer shall be informed, in their probation papers, of this right and privilege and the right, if any, to petition for a certificate of rehabilitation and pardon. The probationer may make the application and change of plea in person or by attorney, or by the probation officer authorized in writing. However, in any subsequent prosecution of the defendant for any other offense, the prior conviction may be pleaded and proved and shall have the same effect as if probation had not been granted or the accusation or information dismissed. The order shall state, and the probationer shall be informed, that the order does not relieve them of the obligation to disclose the conviction in response to any direct question contained in any questionnaire or application for public office, for licensure by any state or local agency, or for contracting with the California State Lottery Commission.

(2) Dismissal of an accusation or information pursuant to this section does not permit a person to own, possess, or have custody or control of a firearm or to prevent conviction under Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 29800) of Division 9 of Title 4 of Part 6.

(3) Dismissal of an accusation or information underlying a conviction pursuant to this section does not permit a person prohibited from holding public office as a result of that conviction to hold public office.

(4) Dismissal of an accusation or information pursuant to this section does not release the defendant from the terms and conditions of an unexpired criminal protective order that has been issued by the court pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (i) of Section 136.2, subdivision (j) of Section 273.5, subdivision (l) of Section 368, or subdivision (k) of Section 646.9. These protective orders shall remain in full effect until expiration or until any further order by the court modifying or terminating the order, despite the dismissal of the underlying accusation or information.

(5) This subdivision shall apply to all applications for relief under this section which are filed on or after November 23, 1970.

(b) Subdivision (a) of this section does not apply to a misdemeanor that is within the provisions of Section 42002.1 of the Vehicle Code, to a violation of subdivision (c) of Section 286, Section 288, subdivision (c) of Section 287 or of former Section 288a, Section 288.5, subdivision (j) of Section 289, Section 311.1, 311.2, 311.3, or 311.11, or a felony conviction pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 261.5, or to an infraction.

(c) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), subdivision (a) does not apply to a person who receives a notice to appear or is otherwise charged with a violation of an offense described in subdivisions (a) to (e), inclusive, of Section 12810 of the Vehicle Code.

(2) If a defendant who was convicted of a violation listed in paragraph (1) petitions the court, the court in its discretion and in the interest of justice, may order the relief provided pursuant to subdivision (a) to that defendant.

(3) (A) A petition for relief under this section shall not be denied due to an unfulfilled order of restitution or restitution fine.

(B) An unfulfilled order of restitution or a restitution fine shall not be grounds for finding that a defendant did not fulfil the condition of probation for the entire period of probation.

(C) When the court considers a petition for relief under this section, in its discretion and in the interest of justice, an unpaid order of restitution or restitution fine shall not be grounds for denial of the petition for relief.

(d) A person who petitions for a change of plea or setting aside of a verdict under this section may be required to reimburse the court for the actual costs of services rendered, whether or not the petition is granted and the records are sealed or expunged, at a rate to be determined by the court not to exceed one hundred fifty dollars ($150), and to reimburse the county for the actual costs of services rendered, whether or not the petition is granted and the records are sealed or expunged, at a rate to be determined by the county board of supervisors not to exceed one hundred fifty dollars ($150), and to reimburse any city for the actual costs of services rendered, whether or not the petition is granted and the records are sealed or expunged, at a rate to be determined by the city council not to exceed one hundred fifty dollars ($150). Ability to make this reimbursement shall be determined by the court and shall not be a prerequisite to a person’s eligibility under this section. The court may order reimbursement when the petitioner appears to have the ability to pay, without undue hardship, all or any portion of the costs for services established pursuant to this subdivision.

(e) (1) Relief shall not be granted under this section unless the prosecuting attorney has been given 15 days’ notice of the petition for relief. The probation officer shall notify the prosecuting attorney when a petition is filed, pursuant to this section.

(2) It shall be presumed that the prosecuting attorney has received notice if proof of service is filed with the court.

(f) If, after receiving notice pursuant to subdivision (e), the prosecuting attorney fails to appear and object to a petition for dismissal, the prosecuting attorney may not move to set aside or otherwise appeal the grant of that petition.

(g) Notwithstanding the above provisions or any other law, the Governor shall have the right to pardon a person convicted of a violation of subdivision (c) of Section 286, Section 288, subdivision (c) of Section 287 or of former Section 288a, Section 288.5, or subdivision (j) of Section 289, if there are extraordinary circumstances.

(Amended by Stats. 2022, Ch. 734, Sec. 3. (SB 1106) Effective January 1, 2023.)