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Can a public defender expunge your case?

Los Angeles, CA |

I'll be released from AB109 probation in August. Someone told me there are public defenders that can seal or expunge your record. Is that true?

Attorney Answers 5

  1. Best answer

    As many of my colleagues mentioned, there is a limited "expungement" in California under Penal Code section 1203.4. Yes, a Deputy Public Defender is certainly capable of preparing and filing the paperwork to get this process going, and representing people at the hearings for dismissals under this section. The real question is whether the Public Defender in your jurisdiction will do so. Some Public Defenders, such as the office in San Joaquin County where I work, have stopped offering this serve because our budget has been cut to the point where we need to focus on our constitutionally-mandated missions-mainly defense of poor people in active criminal and juvenile cases.

    In your case it appears dismissal under 1203.4 may not be available in any case, as you indicated you finished an "AB109" sentence. That tells me you were denied probation and sentenced to a "prison" sentence to be served in your local jail under the recent prison reform. Since dismissal under PC 1203.4 is only available upon successful completion of probation, you would not qualify.

    All the best.

  2. Nobody - not a public defender or a private attorney can "expunge" your record in California. We don't have a true expungement law. What we do have is a dismissal under Penal Code 1203.4. That's what many people call an expungement. If granted, it dismisses your case, but it does not take it off your record.

    Adult records cannot get sealed unless you are factually innocent - not applicable to you since you're convicted.

    And yes, your public defender can assist with the 1203.4 motion once you're off probation and if you don't have any cases pending.

    The above answer is for general information only and is based on the information you posted. Every case is fact dependent, so to get a thorough analysis of your situation, you will need to consult face to face with an attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where the incident took place. Do not conclusively rely on any information posted online when deciding what to do about your case.

  3. I agree with my colleague but I would add that if you are interested in 1203.4 dismissal public defender can do it. Probation also files these petitions from time to time.

  4. Mr. Dane is correct that we don't have a true "expungement" statute in California. Penal Code section 1203.4 permits the conviction to be dismissed, but the record will show a conviction followed by a dismissal under PC 1203.4.

    As for whether the Public Defender can do this -- the answer is yes. I did a bunch of these when I interned for the Public Defender in Law School.

    The response above is not intended as legal advice. This response does not create an attorney-client relationship. Legal questions can only be fully answered through consultation with an attorney to whom you give full and accurate details. Anything you post here is not confidential and is not protected by the attorney-client relationship. It is highly recommended that you seek advice from a criminal defense attorney licensed in your jurisdiction by setting up a confidential meeting.

  5. I don't mean to be hyper-technical, but I am not sure that your question has been fully understood. So: a Deputy Public Defender can prepare and bring the motion for a dismissal of your conviction, but the P.D. cannot simply effect or grant the dismissal. The dismissal occurs by a court order after the court receives the petition requesting that relief.

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