ELIGIBILITY FOR EXPUNGEMENT
A person who has fulfilled the conditions of probation for the entire period of probation may petition the Court to have the criminal conviction vacated and the case dismissed. If probation was not granted, you are eligible to do this one year after the conviction date. If you are still currently on probation, under Penal Code Section 1203.3 you may petition the court to terminate probation early and request a dismissal. Otherwise, you may petition the court for an expungement after the probationary period is over. If no probation was granted, you must wait one year from the conviction date. The petitioner must not be serving a sentence for any other offense, on probation for another offense, or currently charged with another criminal offense. All probation requirements, such as DUI classes, restitution, and court fines, must be completed and paid before the Court will grant the dismissal request (or before you can request early termination of DUI probation). You will not be eligible if you did not successfully complete probation, e.g. you violated probation and you were sentenced to jail rather than being placed back on probation.
EXPUNGEMENT OF YOUR CRIMINAL RECORD
The process of obtaining a dismissal pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.4 is commonly referred to as an "expungement" of a criminal conviction. If you were convicted of DUI, you are eligible to have the conviction expunged. However, for convictions after January 1, 2009, DUI expungements are discretionary. This means that it is up to the Judge whether or not to grant your petition for dismissal.
Benefits of Getting Record Expunged
Obtaining a dismissal pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.4 brings with it a lot of benefits. You can answer on many (but not all) job applications that you have not been convicted of a criminal offense. By law, a private employer cannot ask a job applicant about any misdemeanor conviction dismissed under Section 1203.4 (*the law is not clear as to whether they can ask about a felony conviction that was expunged). The court entry for your case will show the words "DISMISSED" rather than "CONVICTED." The conviction cannot be used against you to impeach you if you are testifying as witness (unless it is being used against you for a subsequent offense).
Limitations of Expungement
While it is recommended to anyone who has been convicted of DUI that they seek to get the conviction expunged, a couple of things should be noted. An expungement is not a complete erasure of your criminal record (this would be a "sealing"). A case that has been dismissed pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.4 still remains on your record for several purposes. First, a DUI conviction counts as a "prior" conviction. For example, if you were convicted of DUI in 2012, successfully completed summary probation in 2015, were granted an expungement in 2016, and picked up a new DUI in 2017, the new DUI would be counted as a 2nd offense. It would not matter that the 2012 DUI conviction had been expunged. An expunged conviction can be used as a sentence enhancement in any future criminal cases the person may have. An expunged conviction will still appear on a person's rap sheet (history of criminal convictions). Also, it will not reinstate a person's right to possess firearms (if this was taken away, such as the case with a domestic violence conviction) or remove the requirement of a person who has been ordered to register as a sex offender. The order also does not relieve the person of the obligation to disclose the conviction in response to any direct question contained in any questionnaire or application for public office, for licensure by any state or local agency, or for contracting with the California State Lottery Commission. Also, if you were convicted of a felony and denied probation, meaning that you received a state prison sentence, you cannot seek relief under Section 1203.4.
START THE EXPUNGEMENT PROCESS TODAY
If you have previously been convicted of DUI you should consider filing a Petition for Dismissal aka an "expungement" request. Unlike some other offenses, a dismissal is not mandatory for those convicted of DUI. It is discretionary with the Court. A copy of the petition must also be served upon the prosecuting agency (e.g., Los Angeles City Attorney, Los Angeles County District Attorney, etc.) who will run a new background check and object to your petition if they believe you are not eligible due to you having been convicted of new criminal offenses. Having a good DUI lawyer who understands this process greatly increases your chances of successfully having the petition granted.
Motion for Early Termination of Probation
Even if you are still on probation for a DUI conviction, you may qualify to have probation terminated early pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.3 and then immediately file a 1203.4 dismissal request. Although it is not a complete erasure of the conviction record, it provides some relief and may be very beneficial to you either now or in the future. CONTACT our office today for a free and confidential consultation. DUI Lawyer Robert D. Berglund will explain the process to you and advise you as to whether you are eligible to have your DUI and/or other criminal convictions expunged. If you are eligible for an expungement, we will begin the process immediately.