California Petition for Dismissal: A How To Guide
There are no true "expungements" in California, you can only seek a petition for dismissal. It changes your record to reflect a "case dismissed" instead of a plea of "guilty" or "no contest". This is a basic guide for filling out a "typical' petition for dismissal.
Benefits of Petition for Dismissal1. You may legally indicate that you have never been convicted these crimes on job applications and pursuant to California Labor Code section 432.7 it is unlawful for a California civilian employer to consider your expunged convictions as a factor in determining any condition of employment including hiring, promotion, or termination.
2. It shows professional license organizations that you've taken the steps to go back to "clean up" your record, which oftentimes is considered during evaluation process.
3. It minimizes the stain on your criminal record.
Limits on Petition for Dismissal1. A petition for dismissal does not remove obligation to disclose the conviction in response to any direct question contained in any questionnaire or application for public office, for licensure by any state or local agency, or for contracting with the California State Lottery Commission.
2. A petition for dismissal is not available in situations where you have spent time in state prison.
3. A petition for dismissal will not remove your requirement to register pursuant to PC 290.
4. A petition for dismissal does not permit a person to own, possess, or have in his or her custody or control any firearm that the underlying conviction prohibited.
5. A petition for dismissal does not permit a person prohibited from holding public office as a result of that conviction to hold public office.
6. A petition for dismissal will typically not protect you from deportation or similar federal action.
Get a DocketAs a first step I suggest you go to the clerk's office of the courthouse your case took place in and request a copy of the "docket" associated with your case. This docket will be a complete record of all the court appearances on your case and will explain what you were convicted of and sentenced to complete.
Fill out the paperworkOnce you have the docket, and assuming you were given probation (or at least no prison time) on any or all of these cases, you're going to want to use the information on the docket to fill out a petition for dismissal (found here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/cr180.pdf ).
Once you've filled out the petition for dismissal, you'll need to fill out the top and attach an order for dismissal so the judge can rule on your motion (found here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/cr181.pdf ).
Whether or not to include a declarationIf you completed probation without any problems, you don't need to include a declaration.
If you violated probation in any of these cases you're going to need to attach a declaration to explain why it's in the interests of justice that the judge grant your dismissal. This is a good chance to explain to the court how hard you've been trying to be a good member of society and why the court should take a chance on you. You can find the declaration form here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/mc031.pdf
Filing and ServingMake 2 photocopies of your above documents. Take your original documents and file them in the courthouse where your case took place and pay the filing fee (usually about $120). Ask for the court to stamp your photocopies. Take your 2 photocopies and serve the prosecutor with one copy (give it to them) and ask them to stamp/sign your other photocopy. Keep the second photocopy as your proof that you filed and served your paperwork properly.
Receiving notice of hearing or findingsOnce your petition is filed it's going to take a few weeks typically for it to get to a court room. These things take time and are heavily dependent on the local court's calendar. Wait for notice in the mail to see if your petition has been denied, granted outright, or scheduled for a hearing date.
xxx 1. If it's been denied, you may want to speak with a legal professional for assistance at that point. You may have filled out the document incorrectly or require professional assistance in explaining why it's in the "interests of justice" to grant you relief.
xxx2. If it's granted, congrats!
xxx3. If it's scheduled for a hearing, be sure to show up on time and be prepared to argue with the prosecutor why it's in the "interests of justice" that the court grant you this relief. Wear something nice and be polite with the judge and prosecutor.