One of the favorite sayings that our attorneys have about criminal defense attorneys, particularly regarding the ones here at our law firm, is that we help good people through bad times. For many people, going through the gauntlet of a trial and being convicted of a crime is the worst of the worst times of their lives, and they don’t believe that they can come back from that conviction.
However, we have seen (and have helped) those who’ve gone through these bad times, and we know that it is possible to come out the other end of the dark tunnel of a conviction by clearing criminal records and starting with a clean slate.
Those who have convictions and were put on probation can start on the road to a clean slate if they apply to the court for relief under California Penal Code 1203.4 PC, which is the first step for a pardon from the California governor.
Even if you were not granted probation, if you were convicted of a misdemeanor or an infraction, you can apply for relief under California Penal Code 1203.4a PC
Those who were convicted of a felony can file a 17(b) motion to reduce their felony to a misdemeanor.
What can Calif. Penal Code 1203.4 PC, California Penal Code 1203.4a PC, and a 17(b) motion do for me?
Fresno criminal defense attorney Mark W. Coleman explains that 1203.4 PC “allows the client to withdraw the plea and enter a not guilty plea, and then the case is dismissed.” This is essentially the withdrawal of a conviction. Recent developments in the law give this code section even more meaning, Coleman says.
“For example you cannot be denied employment in most instances once that relief is granted,” Coleman says. “State licensing agencies cannot deny a license based solely upon a conviction for relief has been granted,” he continues.
In the case of 1203.4a, which applies to a misdemeanor conviction where you were not granted probation, you will be allowed to withdraw your plea of guilty or no contest and enter a plea of not guilty; or if you were convicted after a plea of not guilty, your guilty verdict will be set aside.
If you are successful with a 17(b) motion, your felony would be reduced to a misdemeanor for all purposes.
How do I know what’s listed in my criminal record?
If you want to see what’s in your criminal record in the city of Fresno, you can fill out a records request through the Records Bureau with a valid ID. At the time this post was drafted, the fee to request criminal records was $30.
Am I eligible to get rid my criminal record?
Calif. Penal Code 1203.4 PC
You can get rid of your conviction under 1203.4 PC if
- You have fulfilled the conditions of your probation for the entire period of your probation
- You were discharged before the termination of your probation period
- The court, in its discretion (which it has a lot of) and in the interests of justice, determines that you should be granted relief
Even if you didn’t successfully complete your probation, you still have hope for expunging your record through a special hearing, where a judge considers whether you are nonetheless a good candidate for expunging your records.
You can’t get rid of your conviction under 1203.4 PC if
- You are serving a jail/prison sentence for any offense
- You are currently on probation for any offense
- You are currently charged with the commission of any offense
Calif. Penal Code 1203.4a PC
Similar to 1203.4 PC, you can get rid of your misdemeanor conviction without probation under 1203.4a if:
- You have fully complied with and performed the sentence of the court
- You are not serving a sentence for any offense
- You haven’t been charged with the commission of any crime
- You have, since you were convicted, lived “an honest and upright life” and conformed to and obeyed the laws of the land.
When can I file a petition to expunge my criminal record?
Under 1203.4 PC, you can file a petition to expunge your conviction after your probation has ended.
How do I file a petition for expunging my criminal record?
The California criminal justice is full of policies and procedures for filing cases and motions. Since there are a number of ways to clean up your past record, it can be a good idea to speak with a criminal lawyer experienced in these matters. In addition to looking at whether you are eligible for an expungement and researching the various arguments you can make supporting your expungement, you or your criminal defense lawyer will also have to ensure that you follow the proper court procedures, including filing timeframes, in order to be successful in your petition.
What happens if I succeed in getting rid of my conviction under any of these code sections?
If you are successful in your petition to get rid of your conviction under 1203.4 PC or 1203.4a, the court will then dismiss the accusations, and you will be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense for which you were convicted. There are many personal and professional benefits in getting your convictions dismissed.
You will also now be able to sit on a jury, and your employers cannot discriminate against you because of these expunged convictions.
At this point, you can also now apply for a certificate of rehabilitation and a pardon from the governor
Note that, while an expungement can certainly get you on the right path to a clean slate, there are certain roadblocks that it can’t lift. You can still be penalized under California Vehicle Code 13555 VC, which limits your ability to drive a motor vehicle if your license was suspended or revoked. This section of the vehicle code considers dismissals of charges under 1203.4 PC as convictions that can limit your ability to drive if you have more than two past convictions. Also, note that you may still be required to register as a California sex offender under California Penal Code 290 PC.
Also note that this doesn't get rid of the arrest associated with the conviction. The process for that is detailed in our article: Sealing and Destroying Adult Arrest Records.
Source: California Penal Code 1203.4