Author: Mariya Melkonyan | Published: October 3, 2023 | Category: California

Californians living with a criminal record face over 5,000 legal restrictions. Worse yet, 3,650 of those limitations are permanent.

Consequently, 4 in 5 former convicts face barriers to accessing jobs, housing, education, financial services, adopting or fostering children, and more.

California Penal Code 1203.4 allows eligible individuals to expunge their records, removing barriers to stable housing and employment.

Here, you’ll learn everything you need to know about CPC 1203.4, including what it is, the eligibility criteria, the expungement process, and more.

What Is California Penal Code 1203.4?

California Penal Code (CPC) 1203.4 outlines the legal process for expungement of certain criminal convictions in California.

“Expungement” means a criminal conviction is set aside or dismissed after completing certain criteria (e.g., probation).

It allows you to legally state that you weren’t convicted of the offense, which can help improve job prospects, secure or maintain professional licenses, and join certain organizations.

Who Is Eligible for a 1203.4 Expungement (California)?

Under California Penal Code Section 1203.4, you’re eligible for expungement if:

  • You’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony and successfully completed probation.
  • You’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony and weren’t placed on probation — in this case, you can only petition one year after the date of conviction.

To clarify, you need to meet all terms to “successfully complete probation,” including:

  • Paying fines and restitution
  • Completing counseling programs, community service, etc.
  • Attending all court appearances
  • Not committing new crimes while on probation

Also, to be eligible, you can’t currently be:

  • Charged with a criminal offense
  • On probation for a criminal offense
  • Serving a sentence for a criminal offense

What Crimes Are Not Eligible for Expungement in California?

If you were sentenced to state prison, you generally don’t qualify for expungement under CPC 1203.4.

In addition, some criminal offenses can never be expunged, including sex crimes against children like:

  • Sodomy with a Minor (Penal Code Section 286(c))
  • Lewd and Lascivious Acts with a Minor (Penal Code Section 288)
  • Oral Copulation with a Minor (Penal Code Section 288a(c))
  • Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with a Minor (Penal Code Section 261.5(d))

9 Benefits of Getting an Expungement of Criminal Records in California

Everyone eligible for expungement under CPC 1203.4 or 1203.4a should petition for it.

This is because having a clean criminal record comes with several benefits:

  1. It helps with employment — you won’t have to disclose your conviction on job applications.
  2. It forbids employers from discriminating against you due to your criminal records.
  3. It may make it easier to get state professional licenses.
  4. It may reduce barriers to immigration and related issues.
  5. You’ll regain certain civil rights, like the right to vote and serve on a jury.
  6. It’ll improve your eligibility for government assistance programs.
  7. It’ll boost your eligibility for housing and rental applications.
  8. It’ll reduce the negative social stigma that comes with having a criminal record.
  9. It makes it easier to adopt a child.

The faster you get your criminal records expunged, the faster you’ll get your rights back. Mariya Melkonyan can help you navigate the 1203.4 process efficiently. Schedule a free consultation today.

4 Things CPC 1203.4 Does NOT Do

There are several benefits to getting your criminal records expunged under CPC 1203.4, but it isn’t a silver bullet. You’ll still have some limitations that come with a past conviction:

  1. Record expungement won’t lift driving privilege restrictions or reinstate a suspended or revoked driver’s license.
  2. It won’t restore your gun rights in California if your conviction prevents firearm ownership.
  3. It won’t exempt you from registering as a sex offender under Penal Code Section 290.
  4. If you’re charged in the future, your expunged conviction will still count as a prior conviction and may increase your sentence.

You’ll have to address these limitations through other means. Your gun rights can be restored with a Governor’s Pardon, for example.

4 Steps to Expunge Your Criminal Records under California Penal Code 1203.4

To expunge your criminal records under CPC 1203.4, you need to take the following four steps:

1. Hire an Attorney

The expungement process is complex and paperwork-heavy. Most people end up making mistakes that lead to their petitions being denied.

Expungement attorney, Mariya Melkonyan, will simplify the process and ensure your first attempt is successful. Schedule a no-obligation, free consultation today.

2. Fill Out the Required Forms

A criminal defense attorney knows which forms to use. You can find most of these documents at your local courthouse or on the internet:

  • Use the PC 1203.4 petition form for misdemeanors with completed probation.
  • File a motion to terminate probation for uncompleted probation — if that’s denied, you need to fill out a petition for dismissal.

Felonies need to be reduced to misdemeanors before being expunged. You can request a court to reduce your wobbler offense

For non-wobbler offenses, you need to fill out a form under PC § 17(b)(3) before petitioning for dismissal under PC 1203.4.

3. File for Expungement

After filling out the correct forms, you need to file them with the court where your case was heard.

Every court has its own policies and fees — this is where things get tricky:

  • You may have to deliver the forms in person or through the mail.
  • There are various deadlines to deliver subsequent paperwork.
  • The prosecutor will review your paperwork and my object.

4. Prepare for Your Expungement Hearing

Not everyone has to appear at their expungement hearing. Your defense attorney can help you prepare if needed.

If the judge grants your petition, you need to seal the case to hide it from the public — your defense attorney can do this for you.

If your petition was denied, you can file a new one six months later.

FAQs About California Penal Code 1203.4 (Expungement)

1. What Does “Dismissed per 1203.4” Mean?

In practical terms, “dismissed per 1203.4” means your conviction has been set aside, and you can legally state that you weren’t convicted of the offense.

2. How Do I Get a Dismissed Case off My Record in California?

To get a dismissed case off your record in California, you need to petition the Superior Court that has jurisdiction over your case and file a copy of the petition with the DA’s office.

3. How to Find a Qualified Expungement Attorney in California?

The best way to find a qualified expungement attorney in California is to look at the attorney’s experience and client reviews.

For instance, Mariya Melkonyan has 13 years of experience as a Deputy District Attorney, Jury Trial experience ranging from misdemeanors to serious and violent felonies, and a five-star rating from several client testimonials.

4. Does an Expungement Attorney Offer a Free Initial Consultation?

Yes, expungement attorney Mariya Melkonyan offers a free initial consultation. Contact Mariya to find out if you qualify for record expungement.

Alternatively, you can email her at, call (424) 901-3131, or visit her office at 450 N. Brand Blvd, Suite 600 Glendale, CA 91203.

5. Can All Misdemeanors Be Expunged in California?

In California, nearly all misdemeanors can be expunged aside from some Vehicle Code violations and other rare exceptions.

6. What Is Considered a Misdemeanor in California?

A misdemeanor is any offense punishable by fines, probation, community service, or up to one year in county jail.

7. How Long Before You Can Expunge a Felony in California?

We can help you start the felony expungement process once you complete all terms of probation. If you didn’t receive probation, we can begin one year from the date of your conviction.

8. How Much Does It Cost to Get Your Record Expunged in California?

The cost of getting your record expunged in California varies depending on several factors, such as:

  • The complexity of your case
  • Filling fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Notary fees
  • Whether you’re eligible for financial assistance

9. How Long Does It Take to Expunge a Misdemeanor in California?

The time it takes to expunge a misdemeanor in California varies, depending on factors like the specific court’s caseload. It usually takes us two to four months to complete the entire process.

10. Will I Have to Attend a Court Hearing to Get My Records Expunged?

In most cases, a court hearing isn’t necessary. If a hearing is scheduled, we can almost always handle all court appearances for you.

11. What Happens If My Expungement Request Is Denied?

If your expungement request is denied, consulting with an attorney is essential. We can review your case and advise you on whether appealing the judge’s decision or reapplying at a later time is the best course of action.

12. How Do You Check If Your Record Has Been Expunged?

The easiest way to check if your criminal record has been expunged is to visit the court where your case was handled and ask to see the records. If the court tells you they don’t have your records, it means they were expunged.

13. Can Employers See Expunged Records (California)?

Typically, employers can’t see expunged records on a standard background check.

14. Do I Have to Disclose Expunged Records in California?

Generally, you don’t have to disclose expunged records in California. Exceptions include:

  • Applying for law enforcement or government agency jobs
  • Dealing with certain immigration matters
  • Applying for a state license
  • Running in public elections
  • Applying for a license, contract, or job with the State Lottery Commission

15. Can Police See Expunged Records in California?

Expunged records are inaccessible to general law enforcement. Under exceptional situations, they may be retrieved and used; but it typically requires a court order or statutory authorization.

16. Does 1203.4 Restore Gun Rights?

Expungement under 1203.4 does not restore gun rights if your conviction disqualified you from owning firearms (e.g., you were convicted of a violent felony such as murder, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, etc.).

17. Can You Become a Police Officer with an Expunged Felony in California?

Technically, you can become a police officer with an expunged felony in California, but it’s very unlikely you’ll qualify. Talk to the police department you want to apply for to find out what their policy is.

18. What Is the Difference Between 1203.4 and 1203.4 A?

As we mentioned above, CPC 1203.4 focuses on expungement after probation.

California Penal Code 1203.4a allows you to petition to have infractions and misdemeanors with no probation expunged from your record one year after the conviction date.

19. What Is the Difference Between a Pardon and an Expungement in California?

An expungement under CPC 1203.4 seals your criminal conviction — for most purposes, it’s as if it never happened.

A pardon restores certain rights such as firearm and voting rights. However, your records will still show in background checks.

20. What Is the New Law for Expungement in California 2023?

The new law for expungement in California — SB 731 — is a transformative bill for those living with the consequences of having a criminal record. It came into effect on July 5, 2023.

Learn more: California SB 731 Explained: How to Seal Your Criminal Records

Get a Second Chance at Life: Expunge Your Criminal Records with Legal Help

You don’t deserve to keep struggling to access employment, housing, financial services, and education.

With 13 years of experience as a former Deputy District Attorney, Mariya Melkonyan can help you navigate the complex paperwork and process of California Penal Code 1203.4.

Schedule a free evaluation of your case with Mariya today to get your criminal records expunged as soon as possible.

Criminal defense attorney, Mariya Melkonyan, along with her contact information, including phone number, website, and email; and her law specialties, which include expungement under California Penal Code 1203.4.

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