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Expungement of Criminal Records in California


This area of the law has changed a bit.  It’s no longer called an expungement.  It’s called a dismissal.  So, if you’re able to get a successful dismissal on a case then when somebody runs your criminal record, instead of seeing a conviction on your record, they’re going to see that you had a case but it was dismissed.  The reason they changed this is because expungement makes it sounds like the whole record is going to be taken out, so a lot of people were being fooled thinking that once they file their expungement and if they’re successful then they’re going to get their record taken off and they can go get a job and nobody will be able to see it.

Unfortunately, in California, there’s no such thing as a true expungement.  Meaning, there’s no such thing as completely wiping your conviction off by way of this Penal Code Section 1203.4.  If you file that motion because you have a conviction, all you can do is dismiss the case.  So, now they’ve even changed the forms for the expungement.  For years — I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years — it was called an expungement.  Now they’ve changed it to a dismissal form, because again, they’re trying to get away from that confusion that people have, thinking they’re going to file the motion, get it granted and then they’re not going to have any type of a record.

Reducing Felony Case to Misdemeanor

The reality is, if you get convicted of a crime in California, then you can sometimes reduce the case from a felony to a misdemeanor if it’s the right type of case and if of course, you’re charged or convicted of a felony and then that misdemeanor you can file a 1203.4 of the Penal Code motion and basically, what you’re asking the judge to do is to dismiss the case.  And if the judge does that and the Department of Justice’s computer and any other computer that has access to your criminal record, will show that your case was dismissed.  So, even though a lot of people still call it an expungement, it really should be called a dismissal.

If you’ve got a situation where you’re convicted of a crime and you want to get it dismissed, that’s the best you can do in California.  And I think it’s well worth it, that way if anybody looks you up, they’ll see you have a dismissed case instead of a conviction.  Obviously, the best case scenario would be they see nothing.  But, not in all cases are you able to make it so you see nothing.  In juvenile cases you can completely seal the and even in some adult situations where people are arrested and there’s no charges filed or somebody gets arrested and they end up dismissing the case without any type of conviction, that’s a scenario where you can apply to get the entire record sealed.  If you get a record sealed in California, now you’re in business.  Nobody’s going to be able to find a sealed record.  Even the police can’t find a sealed record in most circumstances.

Consult with Our Lawyers to Discuss Options

If you’re looking to get an expungement/dismissal, then you’re going to want to talk to our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm who has familiarity with this section of the law and knows how to deal with cases in the jurisdiction where you’ve got your conviction.  So, pick up the phone.  Give me a call.  We’ll ask you a bunch of questions about the case because we’re looking to see if it’s a case that can be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.  We’re looking to see if it’s a case that can actually be dismissed.

Sometimes you’re barred from getting a dismissal.  If you’ve served prison time on a criminal case, then you’re not going to be eligible to get your case dismissed.  If you’ve got a strike on your record that’s going to create another problem for you.  So, we’ve got to ask you some questions.  We’ve got to figure out what your conviction is, what your prior record looks like, because if you have a bunch of convictions, that could also be a roadblock because what the judge is going to do when we file the motion to dismiss your case, they’re going to look at your criminal record.  They’re going to see how well you did on probation.  It doesn’t mean just because you might have messed up a couple of times on probation that you automatically can’t get the dismissal, but it certainly makes it more difficult.

So, pick up the phone and give me a call.  We have to talk to you.  We have to find out what happened in your case so that we can do everything we can to get that dismissal that you’re looking for.

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Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

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