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It is a common belief that once you’ve been convicted of a crime your criminal record will follow you forever. Indeed, this is true in California – unless your matter resolved without a conviction and you receive an order granting a motion for factual innocence under Penal Code section 851.8 or a Petition to Seal under Penal Code section 851.91, you will have a permanent criminal record. However, there are ways to change the language reflected on that criminal record and convert a conviction to a dismissal.

This procedure is referred to as the expungement process in California under Penal Code section 1203.4. Although it does not completely delete your criminal record or wipe away the entries it does change it from a conviction to a dismissal which in turn allows you to answer that you have never been convicted of a crime for most purposes.

An experienced Alameda expungement lawyer understands the crippling effect that a criminal conviction can have on your life. As such, an experienced defense attorney you choose to retain could be dedicated to helping you understand California’s criminal dismissal laws and help you with the process of getting a fresh start. En Español.

Charges That Qualify for Expungement

Almost any criminal conviction in the State of California is eligible for dismissal. The only total exception to this rule is if a court sentenced a defendant to a term in state prison as a result of their conviction. This type of punishment only applies to people who are convicted of felonies, so all misdemeanor-level offenses and violations may qualify for expungement.

However, there are certain criminal offenses that may never be dismissed from a criminal record. These include:

For all other offenses, courts are required to either accept a petitioner’s request for a dismissal or—at a minimum—formally consider the request. The path taken by the court depends on whether the defendant fulfilled the terms of their sentence without incident.

In most instances, courts must allow a request for a dismissal of a misdemeanor if the defendant received probation or a jail term and completed the requirements of the sentence. This includes paying all fines and not currently having another charge.

Courts also have the discretion to allow for a dismissal under certain circumstances. This alternative option typically applies when a court sentences a defendant to probation, but the defendant did not comply with all the terms which resulted in a probation violation.

In this situation, a person can apply for a dismissal if they have since fulfilled all the terms of probation and remained out of trouble and the judge will determine if the request should be granted despite the violation. An Alameda expungement attorney can help determine if a person qualifies for an expungement.

The Expungement Process

California Penal Code §1203.4 provides the legal framework by which a defendant can apply for a dismissal. Petitioners begin the process by completing Form CR-180 and submitting it to the superior court in the county where the conviction took place. This petition must also be served upon the office of the prosecutor who pursued the case.

Petitioners must submit one copy of this form for each conviction they wish to have dismissed. Once all the paperwork is complete, the clerk of the court can set a hearing date.

Petitioners should be prepared to present the reasons why their record should be expunged in situations where the court has the discretion to make a decision. An expungement lawyer in Alameda could help with filing an appropriate petition, points and authorities, and declarations in support and then argue in court as to why the judge should grant their request.

Getting in Touch with an Alameda Expungement Attorney

A criminal conviction is not something that you are likely to forget. Whether the conviction results in a period of probation or even a jail sentence, it is often a life-changing event. However, California law allows many defendants convicted of crimes to have their criminal convictions dismissed in specific situations.

An Alameda expungement lawyer could help you understand how the dismissal process works, determine if you qualify under the State’s program, and pursue a dismissal in superior court. Call today to schedule an initial meeting and discuss your goals.

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