If you’ve been convicted of a crime in the past but have completed the required sentencing or probationary requirements, you could qualify for an expungement of your conviction. California PC 1203.4¹ outlines the specific requirements for expungement but determining your eligibility can be challenging without a legal background. Let’s break down what this law means for you and how to begin the expungement process.
What is Expungement?
Expungement is a legal process in which an individual who was previously arrested or convicted has their conviction removed from their record. This process can create a “fresh start” for those who have a criminal past, allowing them to move forward without fear of previous litigation impacting their lives. Once a conviction or arrest is expunged from a person’s record, they are no longer required to disclose this information when applying for most jobs, apartments, or other processes that require a background check. There are a few exceptions to this, such as applying for federal employment, so you should consult with your attorney if you have questions about this process.
PC 1203.4: Expungement Under California Law
California PC 1203.4 allows a defendant to withdraw their previous plea of not guilty or no contest and enter a plea of not guilty. This, if granted, allows the case to be dismissed in criminal court and expunged from a person’s record. Expungement, as outlined by this law, is available to those who:
- Fulfilled all probationary requirements AND
- Did not serve time in state prison OR served time in state prison but would have served in county jail if the crime was committed following the realignment under Proposition 47² AND
- Are not:
- Serving a sentence for any offense
- On probation for any offense
- Charged with the commission of any offense
There are a few exceptions to this process that are important to note. Those who have been convicted of a sex crime against a minor and those who committed serious violent crimes, including murder, are generally excluded from the expungement process. Additionally, expungement will not restore gun rights or remove a person from the California sex offender registry.
The expungement process for misdemeanor and felony convictions requires proper completion of petitionary paperwork, either in person, by an attorney, or by a probationary officer. If not completed fully and without error, the petition will be rejected, and you will have to start the process again. Hiring an experienced defense attorney ensures you have the best chance of expungement under PC 1203.4. Depending on the court, you may be asked to attend the hearing of your case, but your attorney will help guide you through this process.
Sealing Criminal Records
If your arrest or conviction is successfully expunged, your attorney will then work to seal the record. This prevents the public from having access to this information. Sealing your record for this case also prevents most employers from accessing this file and prohibits them from discriminating against you as a candidate for employment. As mentioned above, there are a few exceptions to this, such as seeking federal employment and running for public office, but most hiring offices will not be able to see this sealed conviction or arrest.
Legal Support for California PC 1203.4
If you think you qualify for expungement under this law, hiring a defense attorney is an advisable first step. Attorney Sal Ciulla has over 30 years of experience. Our expertise ensures you have the best support possible when pursuing an expunged conviction. If you need representation in Orange County, contact the Law Office of Salvatore P. Ciulla today.
- California PC 1203. 4: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=1203.4.&lawCode=PEN
- California Proposition 47: https://www.courts.ca.gov/prop47.htm