You may have made mistakes in the past that resulted in a criminal conviction, but now you’ve turned your life around and want to clean your record for a fresh start. In the age when information is so readily available to so many people, you need to take advantage of the laws that are in place to clear up your criminal history. A clean record can help your chances at obtaining employment, credit, housing, and becoming a citizen.
Expungement is a common term for the dismissal of a case after probation or after a period of time has elapsed. However, the term expungement is misleading because relief under Penal Code section 1203.4 does not expunge or seal your court record, but it will dismiss your case. If the judge grants your 1203.4 dismissal, you can legally say in most circumstances that you have never been convicted of that crime.
Do You Need A Lawyer To Petition For An Expungement Or A 1203.4 Dismissal?
Petitions and hearings for 1203.4 dismissals can be complicated and time consuming. You must submit the proper paperwork to the appropriate parties, the judge could ask the district attorney and the probation department to respond with their own written motions, and the judge may want to hear oral arguments. Don’t take a chance on filing the wrong paperwork in the wrong place or being forced to debate a skilled prosecutor in court. Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to do this work for you. The Law Office of Amy Chapman can prepare and file all of the necessary paperwork and appear on your behalf so that your life is not interrupted any further.
You are eligible for a 1203.4 dismissal if you are not serving a sentence for any other offense and are not on probation or charged with any other criminal offense. Be sure that you have paid off all of your fines, fees, and restitution before you ask for an expungement. Certain serious sex offense convictions are not eligible for dismissal under this law. If you are granted a 1203.4 dismissal, the case can still be used against you in future criminal proceedings.
Sealing of Juvenile Records
If you were arrested or cited as a minor, you can get those records sealed if juvenile court proceedings were dismissed or never filed. After you turn 18, or if five years has passed since your last arrest or discharge from probation, you can petition to seal juvenile court records. Your records will NOT be automatically sealed after you turn 18. You must file a petition with the court in order to seal your juvenile record. To be eligible, you must not have been convicted later on of any crime of moral turpitude or have any civil case pending that stemmed from your juvenile case. You cannot have your juvenile court records sealed if you were convicted of a major felony after you were 14. If the court orders your records sealed, Welfare and Institutions Code 781(a) specifically says, “the proceedings in the case shall be deemed never to have occurred.” After your juvenile records are sealed they will be completely destroyed five years later. If you graduated from the Department of Juvenile Justice (formerly known as the California Youth Authority), your case was dismissed at graduation. However, if you do not petition to have your records sealed, they will not be destroyed until you turn 38.
If you’re interested in cleaning up your record and avoiding some of the adverse consequences a criminal conviction can have, call the Law Office of Amy Chapman at
(707) 636-3207 or contact the office online.