Expungement & Dismissal
Contact Defense Attorney Mariya Melkonyan. Find Out If Your Case Qualifies For Expungement or Dismissal.
The consequences of a criminal conviction are more serious than most people realize. A misdemeanor or felony conviction can limit your opportunities in life. It is important to know that many crimes can be expunged if you meet certain qualifications of your conviction.
Mariya Melkonyan can talk to you about your options based on the details surrounding your arrest and conviction in a free consultation.
What are Expungements and Dismissals?
California law allows a person to petition the court to clean their criminal record in an expungement. Defendants file an expungement application to withdraw a guilty or no contest plea, enter a plea of not guilty, or have their case dismissed. The application can be made on your own, through an attorney, or your probation officer.
The court will decide to either:
- Let the defendant withdraw a guilty or no contest plea and replace it with a plea of not guilty
- Set aside the guilty verdict if the defendant is already convicted
In both cases, the accusations against the defendant are dismissed. This releases the defendant and cancels any remaining penalties. Expungements help individuals clear their criminal records.
An expunged conviction isn’t disclosed on an employment application. You are allowed to check “no” if asked about prior convictions and don’t have to disclose it once offered a job. However, you need to disclose an expunged conviction on an application for a position in public office.
An expunged record won’t show up in a background check. Many individuals with convictions are denied loans or credit cards as a result of their criminal background history, but an expungement or dismissal of your case lets you have a fresh start.
Who Can Apply for an Expungement?
Many crimes can be expunged from your criminal records if you meet these criteria under PC 1203.4:
- You were convicted of a felony (wobbler) or misdemeanor and were given probation, fined, or went to county jail.
- You finished your probation, meaning that you have completed all the court-ordered conditions such as community service and classes.
- While on probation, you have not committed any other violations or crimes.
- You are not on probation or facing another charge.
What Convictions Can’t Be Erased from Your Record?
Certain crimes cannot be expunged, meaning that even when you complete your parole or probation conditions, the charges and conviction will remain in your record. Under California law, your conviction cannot be expunged if you served time in state prison or were convicted in a federal court.
California does not allow expungements for crimes such as:
- Sexual crimes against minors such as sodomy with a minor under the age of 18 and lewd or lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14
- Unlawful sexual relations with minors under the age of 18 if the adult is over the age of 18 as defined by the statutory rape law
- Violations of Vehicle Code 42001, including municipal ordinance infractions and pedestrian offenses.
How Long Does the Process Take?
Expunging your record is complex. If you file the wrong information or make errors, the application will be denied. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you complete the appropriate forms for your case and represent you in court to improve your chances of expungement.
The expungement forms you need depend on your case. For example, under California PC 1203.4, an individual charged with a misdemeanor can file to dismiss only if they’ve completed probation. Otherwise, you’ll first have to file to terminate your probation.
Felonies must be reduced to misdemeanors by the court before they are eligible for expungement—the defendant files to reduce their charges to a misdemeanor under California PC 17b. Once the charge is reduced, the defendant then files for expungement.
After completed paperwork is filed with the court, there will be an expungement hearing. Your defense attorney and the prosecutor will be present, and the judge will determine your case. If your petition for expungement is denied, you are allowed to refile. If the petition is granted, your criminal record can be sealed and is no longer visible to the public.
Motions for Dismissal
You can clear your criminal record by filing a Factual Innocence Motion. This procedure lets you petition the court to destroy or seal your criminal record if you’ve been falsely accused.
This motion only applies to individuals who meet these qualifications:
- You were arrested but never charged for the crime
- Any charges against you were eventually dismissed
- You were found not guilty after you went to trial
If you meet these qualifications and the judge grants your motion, your criminal record will be sealed and destroyed.
Motion of Withdrawal of Plea
You may be able to reverse your guilty plea through the Motion of Withdrawal. In California, defendants are allowed to file this motion any time before they’re sentenced. This motion may also be filed within 6 months of the verdict.
A withdrawal of plea can be filed by the defendant if:
- Their attorney didn’t advise them of their constitutional rights
- They didn’t have a lawyer representing them
- Their lawyer failed to provide adequate service
- They didn’t realize the impact of the guilty plea on their immigration status
- They didn’t realize they’d be responsible for fines and other penalties
- A plea bargain with the prosecution was violated
Meet with a California Expungement Attorney
A criminal record follows you for the rest of your life and can prevent you from finding employment, qualifying for a mortgage, and obtaining state professional licenses in California. A criminal record also affects your personal reputation.
Instead of letting mistakes harm your prospects, consider contacting a criminal defense attorney to advise you of your rights. The team at the Melkonyan Firm will work hard to help you clean up your criminal record and apply for expungement or dismissals where possible. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case.