California Expungement

Expungement is a legal process that allows a conviction or plea of either Guilty or No Contest in a criminal case to be set aside and the case dismissed. Having a criminal record can hurt your chances for a new job, a better life, and it stays with you wherever you go. An expungement will clear your criminal record, effectively giving you a second chance. Once a record has been expunged, the defendant is relieved of certain penalties and disabilities that result from a criminal action, such as having to divulge a criminal record on employment applications or in other similar situations. Once a felony or misdemeanor conviction is expunged, a prospective employer is barred from using it against you in hiring decisions…or even asking you about it in the interview, for that matter.

As a basic rule, a person is entitled to expunge their criminal records in California if convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense, and they:

  1. Successfully completed probation, and
  2. Are not currently charged with a criminal offense, on probation for a criminal offense or serving a sentence for a criminal offense.

Successful completion of probation: The person must have successfully completed their probation. If a person was sent to a California State prison, either at the time of judgment, or because of a probation violation, they do not qualify for an expungement. “Successfully completing your probation” means that:

  1. All the terms of probation (payment of all fines and restitution, completion of mandated counseling programs, community service, etc.) have been performed.
  2. All required court appearances were attended, and
  3. No new crimes were committed while on probation.
A conviction cannot be expunged if the person was sent to state prison. There are also certain criminal offenses in California that cannot be expunged. These include serious sex offenses committed against children, such as:

  • Penal Code 286(c) PC – California’s law against sodomy with a child
  • Penal Code 288 PC – California’s law against lewd acts with a child
  • Penal Code 288(a)(c) PC – California’s law against oral copulation with a child, and
  • Penal Code 261.5(d) PC – California’s statutory rape law which prohibits sexual intercourse between persons who are 21 years and older with persons younger than 16.
California Penal Code 17(b) PC establishes two requirements for reducing a felony conviction to a misdemeanor:

  1. The underlying offense must be classified as an offense that can be charged and punished as either a felony or a misdemeanor), and
  2. Probation must have been granted.

The list of offenses that can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor includes crimes under:

  • Penal Code 459 PC – California’s burglary law,
  • Penal Code 245(a)(1) PC – California’s “Assault with a Deadly Weapon” (ADW) law
  • Penal Code 422 PC – California’s criminal threats law
  • Penal Code 273.5 PC – California’s spousal battery law
  • Many California sex crimes (including Penal Code 243.4 PC sexual battery and Penal Code 288 PC lewd acts with a minor), and
  • Most California fraud charges.

Only these types of felonies may be reduced to misdemeanors. Crimes that can only be prosecuted as felonies are not eligible for a misdemeanor reduction.

The second requirement is that probation must have been granted in connection with the felony conviction. If the court denied probation (or probation was violated), and the sentence included time served in the California State Prison, a reduction of the crime from a felony to a misdemeanor cannot be obtained. Serving time in a county jail is okay and does not affect eligibility.

In order for a felony conviction to be reduced to a misdemeanor, both of these requirements must be satisfied.

Get help with your California expungement!

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Expungement Services Price
California Expungements $399; +$200 ea. addtl. (same case #)
Felony to Misdemeanor reduction $399
Criminal Prop 47 Resentencing or Reduction $399; +$200 ea. addtl. (same case #)
Motion to Terminate Probation Early $575
Petition to Seal Record $499
Petition for Certificate of Rehabilitation $399; +$50 each additional felony