California classifies crimes as either: infractions, misdemeanors, or felonies. Infractions are the least serious offense, and felonies are the most serious. In California, many traffic violations, such as excessive speeding, are infraction crimes. An example of a non-traffic criminal infraction is the possession of more than one ounce of marijuana for personal use. While non-traffic infractions are eligible to be dismissed through expungement, traffic infractions may not be expunged. This is unfortunate for those individuals who would rather not have anything on their record at all. But all is not lost as time removes many traffic violations from a personal record.
Expunging a criminal conviction in California under § 1203.4 means that the petitioner is “released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which he or she has been convicted. The language in California Penal Code 1203.4 tends to be somewhat misleading because former defendants are not truly released of all penalties and liabilities of the offense.
An expungement dismisses the conviction but does not erase it from the petitioner’s record. This means that an expungement will not seal or conceal the conviction from a criminal record. Instead, it will amend the record to read “dismissed pursuant to Penal Code 1203.4.”
Also, if the charged offense is one for which the petitioner has a prior conviction for the same offense, an expunged conviction is still considered a “prior” conviction for up to 10 years and can enhance the punishment on a current offense.
Some non-traffic infractions such as marijuana possession or certain underage drinking violations may be cause for concern since they may have some serious, tangible effects in the future. Most people would not want a prospective employer or landlord to know that they were caught possessing marijuana or trying to buy or consume alcohol when they were underage. Fortunately, non-traffic infractions may be expunged. Although ineligible for expungement, a traffic infraction may disappear from someone’s record after the expiration of some designated time period.
Expungement, record sealing, and other post-conviction relief proceedings may be very complicated legal matters depending on the facts of the original case. If the State of California objects, a post-conviction relief matter may assume even more complexity. John Patrick Dolan has over forty years of experience helping well-intentioned Californians clear their criminal records and continue making present contributions to the Coachella Valley as valued members of the community. Call us today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.