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California: Expungement - Penal Code 1203.4 Dismissal

These days, with employers, landlords, and others routinely doing background checks, one of the most important things you can do to ensure that your life isn’t negatively affected by a past criminal conviction, is to get it dismissed, pursuant to Penal Code section 1203.4. While California has no process for actual expungement, the complete sealing of a criminal conviction, many people, perhaps incorrectly, refer to a section 1203.4 dismissal as an expungement. When a 1203.4 dismissal is granted, the court will vacate your conviction and enter a full dismissal in your case. Once you have a conviction dismissed, you can truthfully answer that you have never been convicted of a crime, in most situations. While many background checks will still show the conviction and dismissal, the law prohibits a prospective employer from using a dismissed conviction against you in hiring decisions or even asking you about the conviction in a job interview. It brings me great pleasure to help people get their prior convictions dismissed and help them put their past problems behind them and move on with their lives!

Who is Eligible?

California law makes dismissal available to the following categories of people:

  1. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony and are still on probation, you or your attorney can request that you be released from probation early (usually after two years on a three year probation or after three years on a five year probation) and then have the record of your conviction dismissed. You or your attorney can petition to have certain felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors before being dismissed.

  2. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony and have successfully completed probation, then you or your attorney can petition to have the conviction dismissed. You or your attorney can petition to have certain felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors before being dismissed.

  3. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony and were never placed on probation, you or your attorney can petition to have the conviction dismissed after one year from the date of conviction. You or your attorney can petition to have certain felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors before being dismissed.

Who is Not Eligible?

  1. If you have not paid off the fines and restitution ordered by the court, you are not eligible for dismissal.

  2. If you ever were found to have violated probation in the case you are seeking to have expunged, the judge has the discretion to either grant or deny your petition for dismissal. In this case, your attorney will need

  3. If you currently have criminal charges pending against you or are on probation for another offense, you are not eligible for dismissal.

  4. If you have been convicted of Vehicle Code sections 42001(b), 2800, 2801, or 2803 or Penal Code sections 261.5(d), 286(c), 288, 288a(c), 288.5, or 289(j), you are not eligible for dismissal of those convictions.

  5. If you were convicted of a felony and sentenced to state prison, you are not eligible for dismissal, but you or your attorney may apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation or a Governor’s Pardon.

What a Section 1203.4 Dismissal Does Not Do

Once a conviction has been dismissed, it is like you were never convicted of that offense, except in the following situations:

  1. On government licensing applications or job applications (not private employers), if you are asked whether you have been convicted of a crime, you legally have to answer “Yes – Conviction Dismissed." Unless you are applying to work for a police agency or applying for a concessionaire license, you cannot be discriminated against for having a conviction that has been dismissed.

  2. If your conviction legally prevents you from owning or possessing a firearm, getting that conviction dismissed will not change this prohibition.

  3. If your conviction requires you to register as a sex offender, getting it dismissed will not change this requirement.

  4. If your conviction resulted in restrictions on your driving privileges, getting that conviction dismissed will not change the restrictions.

  5. If you get convicted of another offense in the future, your dismissed convictions can still be used against you to increase your punishment.

If you have any old convictions that you would like to get dismissed, please don’t hesitate to call me. This is something I enjoy doing for people, as it usually means that you are making positive changes in your life and putting past problems behind you. For this reason, to do this I charge only the cost of the filing fee, plus a small fee for my services. In some cases that did not result in conviction, the record of arrest can be sealed and destroyed.

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