Mary-Margaret Bierbaum, Attorney at Law
CERTIFIED SPECIALIST IN CRIMINAL DEFENSE

Criminal Info

Expungement

Under California law if you have been convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony and were not sentenced to State prison or under the authority of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, you can petition for a dismissal.

This means you were sentenced to county jail time, probation,and/or a fine. If you petition the court for a dismissal, with a proper motion, the court may withdraw your no contest or guilty plea or guilty verdict, and enter a "not guilty" plea. Then the court will set aside and dismiss the conviction. From that point forward, you are considered to be no longer convicted of the offense, and your record will be amended to show a dismissal rather than a conviction.

You are eligible for dismissal of a conviction if, for instance, you received probation for that conviction and successfully completed probation, paid all the fines, restitution, and reimbursements ordered, are not currently serving another sentence, nor are you either on probation for another offense or charged with another new offense.

Please note: Some convictions are not eligible for dismissal. Please contact the Law Offices of Mary-Margaret Bierbaum to schedule a consultation to determine if your case is eligible for expungement.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Expungement

What is an Expungement?

An expungement is a legal process that petitions the Court to review a non-prison conviction to determine:

  • If probation was successfully completed, or, if no probation was granted, a year has passed since the conviction;
  • That all fines, restitution and reimbursement ordered by the court has been paid;
  • That the petitioner is not now on probation for another offense;
  • That the petitioner has no new pending cases;

The Court then allows the petitioner to withdraw their plea or finding of guilty, and the Court enters a "not guilty" plea, and orders the case dismissed. You will receive a copy of the Court Order when your case is complete.

How does this help me?

Expungement law (Penal Code Section 1203.4) provides in part:

[Petitioner shall]...be permitted by the court to withdraw his or her plea of guilty or plea of nolo contendere and enter a plea of not guilty; or, if he or she has been convicted after a plea of not guilty, the court shall set aside the verdict of guilty; and, in either case, the court shall thereupon dismiss the accusations or information against the defendant and except as noted below, he or she shall thereafter be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which he or she has been convicted, except as provided..." (Emphasis added)

Can a Felony conviction be Reduced to a Misdemeanor?

In many instances, yes. This is authorized by California Penal Code 17, et seq. The conviction must be a "wobbler" (a crime that may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony initially) and the Court retains discretion to grant a reduction even years after the case is over. Under California law, the reduction acts to make the conviction a misdemeanor "for all purposes"; this is a great advantage. If combined with an expungement, there is no additional filing charge by the Court to petition for a reduction also.

What about applying for jobs?

  • After a 1203.4 has been granted, if Private Employers ask if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you can respond "NO".
  • If you are asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime in questions by Government Employers or Government Licensing Applications, you must disclose the expunged case. We tell our clients the best response to a public employer's question about criminal convictions is: "Yes. Case Expunged" to alleviate any confusion regarding your legal status.
  • However, many "record searches" are out of date and inaccurate. Unfortunately these services are used by many employers. This means that your expungement may not reflect in the database if it is not updated on a regular basis.

What doesn't an Expungement do?

  • You will not be allowed to own or possess a firearm until you would otherwise be able to do so. This issue is complicated because of the interaction of State & Federal Law.
  • Your dismissed conviction can still be used to increase your punishment in future criminal cases, if the offense is "priorable"- such as a DUI or theft offense.

Does this erase all records and destroy the Court file?

No. An expungement changes and updates the disposition of the case to reflect a dismissal under 1203.4 of the Penal Code. This means the Court file, the California Department of Justice, and the FBI update their files to show that a new plea of not guilty has been entered and the case has been ordered dismissed by the Court. It does not remove all records of the case, nor does it make the conviction 'invisible' to background checks.

Will I need to go to Court?

Not usually, although in extraordinary circumstances, your appearance may be necessary. However, when retained for this purpose, we do make all Court appearances for and/or with you.

Why Expunge my record? Why spend the money?

There are a number of reasons to do so, such as employment or licensing. However, most of our clients want to expunge their record as final "closure" on an old mistake.


Disclaimer

This web page is not intended to provide legal advice. Please be aware that statutes and the courts' interpretation of them change over time.

An attorney-client relationship cannot be established with Mary-Margaret Bierbaum simply by reading this website; that can be done only by contacting Ms. Bierbaum and by mutually agreeing on such a relationship. You may use email to contact Ms. Bierbaum or her assistants, but do not email any confidential material or information before an attorney-client relationship has been established.


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