Expungement

California Expungement Lawyer

What is an Expungement?

An expungement is a legal process that petitions the Court to review a conviction to determine:

  • If probation was successfully completed, or, if no probation was granted, a year has passed since the conviction;
  • That all fines, restitution and reimbursement ordered by the court has been paid;
  • That the petitioner is not now on probation for another offense;
  • That the petitioner has no new pending cases;

The Court then allows the petitioner to withdraw their plea or finding of guilt, enters a "not guilty" plea, and orders the case dismissed. You will receive a copy of the Court Order when your case is complete.

How does this help me?

  • Expungement law (Penal Code Section 1203.4) provides in part:

"[Petitioner shall]...be permitted by the court to withdraw his or her plea of guilty or plea of nolo contendere and enter a plea of not guilty; or, if he or she has 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, he or she shall thereafter be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which he or she has been convicted, except as provided..."

Can a Felony conviction be Reduced to a Misdemeanor?

  • In many instances, yes. This is authorized by California Penal Code 17, et seq. The conviction must be a "wobbler" (a crime that may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony initially) and the Court retains discretion to grant a reduction even years after the case is over. Under California law, the reduction acts to make the conviction a misdemeanor "for all purposes"; this is a great advantage. If combined with an expungement, there is no additional charge to petition for a reduction also.

What about applying for jobs?

  • If Private Employers ask if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you can respond with "NO". However, many  "record searches" are out of date and inaccurate. Unfortunately these services are used by many employers. This means that your expungement may not reflect in the database if it is not updated on a regular basis. We tell our clients the best response to a private employer's question about criminal convictions is: "No; case expunged" to alleviate any confusion regarding  legal status.
  • On questions by Government Employers or Government Licensing Applications if you are asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you must disclose the expunged case, but can tell them it has been dismissed and set aside.

What doesn't an Expungement do?

  • You will not be allowed to own or possess a firearm until you would otherwise be able to do so.
  • Your dismissed conviction can still be used to increase your punishment in future criminal cases, if the offense is "priorable"- such as a DUI or theft offense.
  • An expungement will not relieve you of your duty to register as a sex offender.

Does this erase all records and destroy the Court file?

  • No. An expungement changes and updatesthe disposition of the case to reflect a dismissal under 1203.4 of the Penal Code. This means the Court file, the California Department of Justice, and the FBI update their files to show a new plea of not guilty has been entered and the case has been ordered dismissed and set aside by the Court. It does not remove all records of the case, nor does it make the conviction 'invisible' to background checks.

Will I need to go to Court?

  • No. We can handle all Court appearances for you.

Why Expunge my record? Why spend the money?

  • There are a number of reasons to do so such as employment or licensing. However, at least half our clients want to expunge their record as final "closure" on an old mistake- just for peace of mind.

Do you accept Federal Court Cases, Certificates of Rehabilitation or Pardons?

  • No. Because we concentrate on California Expungement law we can no longer take those cases. We suggest you contact a Federal law defense attorney, the Parole Department or the Governor's pardon attorneys in Sacramento. We DO accept some Certificates of Rehabilitation in LA County

Do you Guarantee my Expungement?

  • No ethical attorney will make promises as to a result in your case. See Rules of Professional Responsibility: 1-400(E): the Board of Governors of the State Bar has adopted the following standards, effective May 27, 1989, as to "communications" defined in rule 1-400(A) which are presumed to be in violation of rule 1-400:

(1) A "communication" which contains guarantees, warranties, or predictions regarding the result of the representation...

We believe a 'money back' guarantee is a violation of the State Bar Rules.