A criminal conviction at San Fernando Courthouse can have life-long implications, but there may be opportunities for a 2nd chance. Penal Code section 1203.4, referred to as Expungement, may enable you to withdraw your plea or verdict, and allow a judge to enter a dismissal in its place. Under California law, this would generally allow you truthfully answer that you have not been convicted in this case. So, how does the process apply?
Expungement is a technical process, which requires specific steps to be taken in particular order. To make certain you are headed the right direction you should first contact a San Fernando Courthouse Expungement Attorney. Your attorney will then likely evaluate some important details:
1. Charges of which you have been convicted.
Most criminal charges in San Fernando Courthouse may be expunged, including felony and “Strike” convictions, as long as you were placed on probation (not parole) and completed probation without actually serving a prison sentence. A limited number of serious violations, including some sex crimes, may not be expunged. Thus, your first step is to determine eligibility of your specific case. If you meet the first step, you move forward to the next determination.
2. Has your probation ended?
If your probation is still active, you are not yet eligible to apply for expungement (in this case, your attorney may explore early termination of probation to speed up the process). If you are on probation in any other case, or have another case pending, these cases will first need to be coordinated and effectively resolved prior to you applying for expungement in the first case. If you only have one case and your probation has expired or terminated early, you can move forward to the next step.
3. Did your probation expire or terminate successfully?
If you fully and successfully completed your probation requirements, your case can be carefully considered for expungement at the San Fernando Courthouse. Full/successful completion includes full payment of restitution to any victim in the case.
Depending on technical requirements, your expungement motion may be statutory or discretionary. Certain expungements, such as DUI, Hit and Run, Exhibition of Speed, and Reckless Driving, are discretionary, and up to the judge to decide if you are a suitable candidate. These discretionary motions generally hinge on issues of “substantial prejudice” which you are facing because of the conviction on your record, such as impaired employment opportunity. Your attorney will want to explore important factors which may influence the judge, including compelling evidence of your rehabilitation, to improve your chances of expungement.
If you did not fully and successfully complete probation, you may still be considered for expungement, as long as you did not serve a prison sentence.
4. Did you violate terms of probation?
If you missed a completion date for terms of probation, including, fines or community service (which is quite common), but, thereafter, completed all requirements, your expungement motion becomes a discretionary decision for the judge. Again, these motions often hinge on a presentation by your attorney which demonstrates your subsequent rehabilitation and remediation of any shortcomings you faced along the way. Importantly, judges like to see success stories, and will generally give reasonable consideration for a “second chance,” when what they see all day is usually the “opposite of success.”
5. Felony or Misdemeanor
At the time the judge decides your expungement motion your attorney may also request that any eligible felony charges be reduced to misdemeanor level, pursuant to Penal Code section 17(b). This is a discretionary decision for the judge, and justification described above, such as successful rehabilitation, can form the basis for this misdemeanor reduction. This reduction, if granted, technically occurs prior to the expungement, and would likely present a more favorable history of your case.
For more information about Penal Code section 1203.4, see: San Fernando Valley Expungement.
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