Contrary to popular reference, true expungements do not exist in California. A true expungement is defined as the act of legally destroying, deleting, obliterating, or striking out records or information in files, computers, and all forms relating to criminal charges. Once officially expunged, such records cannot be accessed for general or even law enforcement use.
In California, the “expungement” process does not completely delete the conviction, but it does allow the judge to essentially reopen the case, withdraw the guilty or no contest plea, and dismiss the case – so long as the client has fulfilled the requirements originally imposed upon them (finished probation and/or jail sentence, paid fines and/or restitution, completed classes, 12-step meetings, etc.). This process allows the person to truthfully state that they have not been convicted of a crime, except in some cases, like when applying for certain jobs.
We refer to this process as Penal Code section 1203.4 relief – because Penal Code section 1203.4 is the code section that governs the process! This is a much more accurate way to describe it – but in California, when someone says “expungement,” this is what they are (incorrectly) referring to.
If the client was placed on probation, has completed everything they were ordered to do, but their probation has yet to expire, they can petition the court for an “early termination of probation.” This request can be made at the same time as the PC 1203.4 request. It requires additional filings and usually a specific reason as to why the client desires and deserves an early termination of probation.
Although the California “expungement” process does not involve officially sealing the record, there are a few limited situations in which a record can be fully sealed. This is a different process.
If you plead guilty or no contest or were convicted and are interested in this process, contact us today!
DISCLAIMER: This section offers a series of criminal law and personal injury related bulletins prepared by the attorneys at Hayes Law Offices. This is not exhaustive, nor is it legal advice. You should discuss your particular situation with us or with your own attorney. Our legal representation is only undertaken through a contract and not by the distribution or use of this information.