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How do I go about dismissing a misdemeanor in my situation?

Los Angeles, CA |

About two years ago, I was arrested for petty theft (penal code 484). My father hired an attorney, and the attorney told me she managed to reduce my charge to trespassing once I finish my one-year probation. She then also said that I can petition to dismiss it from my record. My father said that he would take care of the rest, so I never bothered to follow up. Now that I am trying to find a job, I'm not sure whether to disclose I have been convicted of a misdemeanor or not. My father passed away a year ago, and I have no way of contacting the defense attorney we hired. Since it has been a year since my probation ended, does that mean my record automatically shows up as trespassing? Or is there some procedure for that as well? How can I go about doing a criminal background check on my self?

The petition was never filed as I have already mentioned that my father passed away before the year probation ended, and I had no way of contacting the defense attorney we hired. I read that I could still petition for a dismissal without an attorney and have found the Petition for Relief form online. The main question though is what I would be petitioning for since I am unsure if it is Petty Theft or Trespassing that is showing up on my records?

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Attorney answers 5

Best Answer

What you can do is go into the court criminal obtain the information of the attorney who handled your case. You should also obtain your criminal case file. This will give you the ability to know what your next step should be.

In order to achieve your goal of having a clean record you need to Expunge your trespassing misdemeanor case. California Penal Code 1203.4 and 1203.4 (a) permits most people convicted of California crimes to have their convictions dismissed after their conviction or guilty plea.
Although this is commonly called an “expungement,” as 1203.4 dismissal is actually more powerful. Rather than having your prior conviction “erased,” instead, your attorney asks the court to permit you to withdraw your guilty plea, or vacate your conviction, and replace it with a dismissal of charges. You can obtain an attorney to do this or if you have the time and ability to complete this on your own you may try to go pro per (without an attorney).

File a petition with the court using CR-180 and CR-181 and follow the instruction of the criminal court clerk.

First collect information about the prior conviction from the criminal clerk office. Make sure all probation is completed and you have complied with all terms of the trespassing misdemeanor conviction. It is important to assure that all relevant information is placed before the judge so that all charges are dismissed. This petition may include information about the offense, the probationer, letters of recommendation, proof of compliance with the terms of probation, and any other material that may assist the court in making a decision.

If your conviction resulted in a probation term, you must first complete your probation before seeking dismissal under Penal Code 1203.4. However, you may request early termination of probation under Penal Code 1203.3 and dismissal simultaneously. Consequently, the judge would grant early termination of probation and dismissal.

Eligibility is based on the type of deal your previous attorney was able to reduce the petty theft to and I would also consider your past criminal record. Also if you complied with courts conditions and paid all outstanding restitution if any. This is where I would advise you to seek consultation from an attorney to see if you are eligible for this type of dismissal. Remember, no attorney can guarantee a dismissal to be granted by the judge, however an experienced attorney will have a good idea of whether or not it will be dismissed.

What this process will achieve:
A dismissal under 1203.4 or 1203.4 (a) vacates your conviction, whether it be by guilty plea or conviction at trial and replaces it with a dismissal. Thus your criminal record will show the charge was dismissed. Files are not destroyed; however, after 10 years the court may destroy records of convictions.
Although you may truthfully answer “no” when asked if you have a criminal record, you must still reveal the prior conviction, now dismissed, when applying for a state license.[4]
A conviction later dismissed under 1203.4 or 1203.4 (a) may still be used against you as a prior conviction for a subsequent prosecution.

You should contact a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles to advise you further, before proceeding with an expungement. Hope this helps you. I wish you all the luck.

Alexander M. Ivakhnenko

Alexander M. Ivakhnenko


Splendid note



Thank you very much for your detailed answer, Konstantin. As I currently cannot afford a lawyer, I greatly appreciate your input!


You still need to retain a local criminal attorney to verify whether the described legal Petition was ever filed, if not, you need to prepare it as required. Since it is your future that is on the line, retain a licensed professional in CA to do it right.

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Go to the court in which your case was heard and request your file from the clerk's office. Obtain a copy of the minute orders on the case. They will tell you whether anything was done on the reduction and petition. If you didn't follow up, the answer is probably no but you can always call the attorney whose name will also be in the file.



Thank you Neil!


You can go to the court where the matter was heard, and go to the clerk's window, and obtain a "docket" on your case. You will see what occurred and you will also see the name of the lawyer your father hired. That should tell you if the charge was reduced and also get you the name of the lawyer, if you want to speak with him. I wish you well................David Wallin


You can always to the court where you were convicted and go to the clerk's office and request a copy of the "docket sheet." Will tell you everything you need to know, including who the attorney was. Whether it will show up as trespass will depend on what your deal was. If the deal required you to go in to request the reduction in charge, it is still a theft unless someone went to court to request it. Also, you can always request your own criminal history by going to the California Attorney General website and looking for the page where you can request your own criminal history.

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