Expungements (Penal Code sections 1203.4 and 1203.4a)

In California, a criminal conviction may be expunged (dismissed) by petitioning the court to allow you to withdraw your plea of guilty and thereafter dismiss the conviction. This petition can be filed as soon as a defendant convicted of certain crimes in California has successfully completed his or her term of probation. Sometimes, the court will grant an early termination of probation and at the same time grant the petition for expungement. Orange County expungements lawyer William Weinberg can help you with this process.

Penal Code section 1203.4 provides for the expungement of certain felonies and section 1203.4a provides for the expungement of most misdemeanors. A person petitioning for an expungement cannot, at the time the petition is filed, be charged with any other crime or be on probation for another crime.

Felony convictions in which the defendant was sentenced to state prison are not eligible for an expungement. Nor are sex offenses against children or certain statutory rape convictions eligible, even if the offender was not sent to state prison. Otherwise, most felony convictions are eligible for expungement.

The court must grant the petition if the petitioner is eligible and did not at any time during his or her term of probation violate the probation terms. If the petitioner violated probation, the granting of the petition is discretionary to the court and will usually be considered in light of evidence that the petitioner has demonstrated his or her rehabilitation. An expungements lawyer in Orange County can assist you with gathering this evidence.

Once the petition is granted, the conviction need not be reported in most cases. For example, on an employment application, a question such as "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?" can be marked "no." (That is presuming there are no other convictions that have not been expunged.) However, the expunged conviction must still be reported when applying for certain jobs, such as any public officer position.

People often believe that an expungement of a criminal conviction will clear their criminal record. That is not the case. The conviction will still show on the California and Federal Department of Justice Criminal History Records (Rap Sheet) but will also show that the conviction was dismissed.

A petition for expungement is not used if the person was arrested but never convicted of the crime. In such a case, the proper petition is a petition for factual innocence and to seal and destroy the arrest record.

For those who were not sentenced to state prison or convicted of certain sex crimes, a petition for expungement is a fairly straight forward process. An expungements attorney in Orange County can ensure the procedure is correctly followed and if needed, can also move for an early termination of probation so that the petition may be filed. In cases where probation was violated and the court has discretion as to whether to grant the petition or not a defense attorney can put together a persuasive rehabilitation package for presentation with the petition.

I have successfully petitioned for expungement for many clients over the years. An expungement can improve employment prospects and other opportunities for the previously convicted person. It is a relatively painless process that is well worth the effort. Contact me at any time to set up a confidential consultation with an Orange County expungements attorney without charge. I will be able to quickly assess your eligibility for an expungement and the likelihood for a successful dismissal of your conviction.