Penal Codes Related To Expungement and Record Clearing

There are a number of different parts of the California Penal Code that deal with expungement, arrest record sealing, early termination of probation, getting a certificate of rehabilitation, and other record clearing matters that we deal with every day at Record Expungement Attorney.

A few relevant issues, like Governor's pardons, lie outside the penal code and are enshrined in the California State Constitution. If you want to look up a record clearing related matter by penal code section, this page will facilitate it, along with some explanatory information being given. Or, if you just want to peruse which sections of the state law code we focus on here at Record Expungement Attorney, you could do that too.

Also feel free to contact us anytime 24/7, 365 days a year holidays inclusive, to ask us any questions you may have about any of these or other statutes that related to expungement and similar matters. And if you call us at 619-432-7544, we can also give you a free initial consultation on the details of your case! Or, you can schedule an appointment for an in-person consultation in our office located at 501 West Broadway, Suite #800, in San Diego, CA.

California Penal Code Section 1203.4

PC 1203.4 is the main section of the California Penal Code that deals with expungement. This statute explains what expungement is (the dismissal of your case), shows how the process works, and names eligibility requirements before a conviction can be lawfully expunged. Under PC 1203.4, you can petition the state of California court where a particular conviction took place to have the case reopened, dismissed, and then re-closed.

If you plead "guilty," you must rescind the guilty plea; if you plead "no contest," you also must rescind that plea. In its place, you plea "not guilty." If you were found guilty despite pleading not guilty, then the verdict is simply set aside before the case is again closed.

If your petition for expungement is accepted by the presiding judge, it will be as if (in the eyes of the state) the conviction never happened. Your record will not show "convicted" anymore but will read "dismissed pursuant to PC 1203.4."

Most background checks will not show anything related to the expunged offense. A full background check (seldom run by employers) would read "dismissed." It can take 30 to 45 days after expungement is granted, however, for convicted to show up as dismissed since it takes time to update the databases.

PC 1203.4 allows for the expungement of felonies, misdemeanors, and even mere infractions. But to qualify, you have to meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • You were not convicted in federal court.
  • You did not serve actual time in prison for the offense (county jail does not disqualify you.)
  • You have finished you full sentence, including your probationary period.
  • You are not now facing a new criminal charge.
  • You were not convicted of a new criminal offense.
  • The conviction to be expunged was not for a serious sex crime against a minor.

NOTE: There are ways "around" some of the restrictions listed in the eligibility requirements just above. For example, if you served prison time for a wobbler offense or a crime that under currently law is a wobbler or a misdemeanor. Or. if you get your probationary period qualified for early termination.

California Penal Code Section 1203.3

It's fitting in a way that PC 1203.3 comes just before PC 1203.4 in the Penal Code, because 1203.3 covers early termination of probation, which is often a preparatory step taken just before expungement (covered in 1203.4)

If you've already finished your probation, of course, this statute won't be of significance to you. But if you are a couple years, or maybe half or more of the way through your probationary term - PC 1203.3 can speed up your expungement.

It allows you to petition for a shortening of your probation at the same time (or moments before, technically) filing for expungement of your conviction record.

We can assist you in filing the formal motion for early termination of probation to the court. Record Expungement Attorney can walk you through all the steps from beginning to end. And we have a very high rate of acceptance for PC 1203.3 petitions we submit for our clients, because we know how to prepare you and put you in a position for the best possible chance of getting the petition approved.

PC 1203.3 allows that a written notice has to be given to the prosecution well in advance of the hearing. To get the judge at the hearing to agree to "modify the terms and conditions of probation" we must show "good cause" to the court. That means we must give evidence of your good conduct during the probation you've served so far and of reform and rehabilitation. But it's not true that you have to have a "perfect" probation record to get approved for early termination.

PC 17b & Prop 47

There are a number of different California penal code sections that deal ways a sentence can be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. Keep in mind that reducing a felony to a misdemeanor can make it much easier to get an expungement - although preliminary sentence reduction is not always necessary.

Under PC 17b, a court can reduce a felony conviction to a misdemeanor IF the offense could have been charged as either a felony or misdemeanor in the first instance. These types of charges are called "wobblers."

Many offenses that were once felonies became either misdemeanors or wobblers after the passage of Prop 47. If two or more years have passed since you completed your sentence for a felony for an offense that could have been charged as a misdemeanor before Prop 47 passed, you can petition for a sentence reduction and then for expungement.

PC 1000 & Prop 36

Under Prop 36 (and PC 1210), you can often qualify for drug rehab and treatment with probation in place of jail or prison time for first time and non-violent drug offenses. This diversion program makes it possible to qualify for expungement after your probation is completed.

And under PC 1000, deferred entry of judgment, a conviction is not put on your record but the verdict is "suspended in air" while you work to complete a drug or other diversion program. Upon completion of a PC 1000 program, your case will be dismissed. So there's no need for expungement but only for arrest record sealing.

PC 851.8

Under Penal Code Section 851.8, those arrested for a crime but never convicted may be eligible to have their arrest records sealed and ultimately destroyed. Since 2017, arrest record sealing has become a matter or right for those who were arrested but never charged, had their case dismissed, won an acquittal, or were convicted but then that conviction was overturned on appeal. Also, those who complete a Prop 36 or PC 1000 diversion program will be eligible to have their arrest records sealed. However, if you were arrested for domestic violence, child abuse, or elder abuse, AND there is a "pattern" of such arrests and/or conviction, then record sealing is no longer a matter of right. It is still possible to get the records sealed, however, by demonstrating to the judge it's in the "interest of justice" to seal them.

WIC 781, 1772, & 707b

Welfare and Institutions Code Sections 781, 1772, and 707b deal with expungement and record sealing for offenses committed while a juvenile (a minor.)

The details of the process differ greatly for juvenile offenses. Plus, there are different eligibility requirements. You must be currently an adult. And you must have been out from under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court system for 5 or more years. And, you must have no crimes or civil suits pending currently and not have any convictions for crimes of "moral turpitude" as an adult.

PC 4852

PC 4852 is California's statute covering certificates of rehabilitation. A certificate of rehabilitation (COR) is a declaration from a court that says you have been rehabilitated from your criminal past.

PC 4852 provides that such a certificate can apply to those with felony or misdemeanor sex crime convictions on their record. It will help on background checks and restore some of the rights and privileges lost due to the conviction.

However, certain sex offense convictions would exclude you from eligibility for a certificate of rehabilitation. And you have to have lived in California continuously for the 5 years immediately preceding filing the motion for rehabilitation.

One must also submit the proper paperwork and meet specific legal deadlines. And you need a good lawyer to present evidence of your being rehabilitated to the court at the hearing.

If you are granted a certificate of rehabilitation, your voting rights are restored and you can legally say "no" if asked on most employer application forms if you have a conviction on your record. Plus, you automatically have a petition for a governor's pardon filed in your behalf once you're approved for a COR.

Governor's Pardon

Article 5, Section 8a of the California State Constitution allows the governor to grant a pardon to those he deems worthy. Such a pardon would eliminate most, if not all, of the penalties stemming for a past criminal conviction.

Here are some of the benefits a pardon can bring:

  • Restored gun right.
  • No longer have to register as a sex offender in accord with PC 290.
  • Employers are not allowed to hold the past conviction against you.
  • You can serve on a jury.
  • Your past conviction alone can't deny you a state-issued professional license.
  • You can serve as a valid witness in a court case. But your past conviction can still be used to impeach your character as a witness if you are the person on trial.
  • Deportation and other immigration consequences are much less likely to occur.

Normally, you have to wait from 7 to 10 after you finish you sentence (including probation) before you can apply for a governor's pardon. As long as you are not convicted of new, serious crimes and can show reason why you should be pardoned, you are eligible to apply.

A certificate of rehabilitation automatically causes you to apply for a pardon. 

Why Choose Record Expungement Attorney?

At Record Expungement Attorney, we have intricate familiarity with all of the relevant Penal Code Sections to do with expungement, record sealing, and other similar legal matters.

We have been serving San Diego and surrounding areas with top-tier legal help for many years and have a solid, local reputation for honesty, excellence, and consistently positive results.

Also, we personalize and customize our approach for each client and each case we take on. We are not a "law mill," like some of our competitors - who simply take on cases to reassign them to less experienced lawyers for a "finder’s fee." 

We personally handle every case we take on. And we do not avoid "the tough cases" to bolster up our success rates. We win where many other lawyers don't and where many would simply pass the case by.

Here are three of the most notable features that set us apart from the crowd:

  1. Extensive experience, both in depth and wide ranging. We simply know more about what we do and how to best do it than many other law firms.
  2. Impeccable integrity. We are always honest and upfront with you. We don't tell you "pretty stories" or promise "magic results." We give you the "real deal" about how the legal system really works and what requirements you'll need to meet to be eligible for expungement and other record clearing actions.
  3. A strong track record. Again, we win. It's that simple. In the final analysis, there's really no better reason than that to choose your attorney.

Contact Us Today for Help with Your Expungement or Other Legal Matter!

At Record Expungement Attorney, we have in-depth knowledge, down to the legal minutia, of all of the penal code sections listed above - and more.

But we don't just stop with mere knowledge of what the laws says. We also are fully familiar with the way the law is actually applied by the courts. And we know the details of the court processes involved in getting you approved for an expungement, record sealing, or other benefit. 

Contact us today by calling 619-432-7544 (anytime 24/7!) and we will be happy to assist you. You can speak with an experienced expungement attorney in a free, no obligation initial consultation, and if you wish, we can then move right into getting started on your case!