California Penal Code § 1203.4 PC allows individuals formerly convicted of crimes to reverse or expunge the negative consequences of their convictions. An expungement begins with a petition brought by a defendant at the conclusion of probation, or one year after conviction if there has been a terminal disposition. The petition requests that the court allow the defendant to withdraw any plea of guilty or no contest and reenter a plea of not guilty. Finally, the petition requests that the court dismiss the case. While an expungement under Penal Code § 1203.4 releases an individual from virtually “all penalties and disabilities” arising out of the conviction, what will an expungement not accomplish?
Currently, California’s ban the box law, AB 1008, prevents employers from asking job applicants about their criminal records until a conditional offer of employment is on the table. A significant benefit of expunging a conviction is that it does not need to be disclosed to potential employers even after the employer makes a conditional offer of employment.
It is difficult enough in today’s employment market without having to report a criminal conviction to a potential employer. Where information about an individual’s criminal record was limited to law enforcement agencies in the past, the digital age allows today’s employers to discover this information in seconds. Employers may not use the expungement of a criminal offense to deny employment to a job applicant.
The Dolan Law Firm has over thirty years of experience helping Californians post-conviction reduce felonies to misdemeanors, expunge both felonies and misdemeanors, terminate probation early, and obtain certificates of rehabilitation, among other valuable services. We can help you determine what is best for you. Sealing and destroying arrest records is entirely different from expunging records of criminal convictions under California PC § 1203.4.
Not all defendants may petition the court for an expungement. A person is not eligible for expungement if convicted of certain sex crimes involving children. Former defendants with convictions for California crimes are not eligible for expungement if they are currently charged with or serving a sentence for any criminal offense.
Although not eligible if on probation for a criminal offense, a defendant may petition the court for early termination of probation, which, if granted, would allow them to expunge a conviction. Once a defendant successfully completes probation, he or she may petition the court for expungement.
Defendants who are not eligible for expungement may be able to get relief by requesting the court to commute their sentences. Another alternative in this situation is a Certificate of Rehabilitation and/or California governor’s pardon.
While an expungement has enormous benefits, there are limitations on what an expungement can accomplish under California law.
- An expunged conviction still counts as a “strike” for purposes of California’s three-strikes law.
- An expungement will not terminate a former defendant’s duty to register as a California sex offender under Penal Code § 290.
- An expungement will not overturn a driver’s license suspension or revocation.
- An expungement will not restore California gun rights under Penal Code § 29800 (felon with a firearm law).
California courts may also still use expunged convictions as prior convictions to enhance sentencing. For example, an expunged conviction for DUI will still count as a prior offense if the defendant is later arrested again for DUI.
For over forty years, the Dolan Law Offices have provided post-conviction services to help the residents of the Coachella Valley clear their criminal record to restore their future as productive, law-abiding members of our community. There are not many attorneys more experienced in helping California residents clear their criminal records than John Patrick Dolan. Call the Dolan Law Offices today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.