Julie Swain

Julie Swain
Criminal Defense Lawyer Julie Swain

Friday, March 4, 2011

California Expungement Under Penal Code section 1203.4

Criminal Defense lawyers are often asked: How do I get my criminal record dismissed or sealed?

While California Penal Code section 1203.4 provides the means to obtain a dismissal of a criminal conviction, the ultimate consequences of the dismissal are often misunderstood.

Can a dismissed conviction be used in a later criminal case?

When the court dismisses the accusations against the defendant, the defendant is relieved of many of the penalties suffered as a result of the original conviction. However, the conviction is not dismissed for all purposes and can be used against the defendant in future criminal cases as if it was never dismissed.

For example, a conviction resulting in a driver’s license suspension will still be considered for any future suspensions of driving privileges. In addition, convictions for serious or violent felonies (“Three Strikes” offenses) dismissed under section 1203.4 may still be alleged as prior convictions in later criminal proceedings. Further, the relief provided under this section does not restore a convicted felon’s right to own a firearm.

What about employment?

Convictions dismissed under this section do not have to be reported to potential employers, however, any thorough background check will likely uncover the court records. On the other hand, when completing applications for state licensing or public office, the dismissed conviction must be disclosed.

Why would I try to get my conviction dismissed?

First, Expungement is an important part of the rehabilitation process. Second, a potential employer may appreciate the effort and follow-through needed to get a criminal conviction dismissed. Finally, anyone who obtains a dismissal of a criminal conviction may feel better about the criminal process as a whole.

Julie Anne Swain

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