Some prior convictions may be dismissed under new California legislation

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Governor Newsom recently signed a new law, making it easier for certain individuals with prior convictions to have their records dismissed. After four years of completing their sentence, many individuals with convictions on their record will automatically be eligible for dismissal without the need to file a petition for relief. This new law will affect many Penal Code section 1203.4 petitions for expungement by making them automatic.

While not all convictions will be eligible for dismissal, the California Department of Justice (“DOJ”) will be responsible for reviewing statewide records on a monthly basis to identify individuals who qualify for relief. Eligible individuals must not have been convicted of another felony within the four-year period following completion of their sentence. Exceptions to this relief include those on probation or supervised release, those required to register as sex offenders, those facing pending criminal charges, or convicted of serious or violent felonies (including, but not limited to, rape, murder, robbery, kidnapping).

Despite these exceptions, the legislation will benefit thousands of individuals convicted of misdemeanors and non-violent felonies. Once the DOJ grants the relief, individuals will no longer need to report the conviction on certain applications, such as employment and housing applications, except when applying for certain jobs such as a peace officer. However, the granted relief does not relieve the individual from firearm restrictions and penalties for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

While there will be questions regarding the legislation’s implementation, individuals who think they might be eligible should consult with a criminal defense attorney to confirm their eligibility. Even with the DOJ’s monthly review of statewide records, there will be individuals who slip through the cracks and won’t be granted relief as required. Once this law takes effect, individuals can request their DOJ criminal history record to confirm that their conviction was properly notated with “relief granted.”

By contacting a private criminal defense attorney, like Halley J. Peters, a criminal record may be requested and assessed to determine whether any convictions are eligible.  The law may take several months to take effect; however, the process can begin by filing the petition for dismissal.

In conclusion, this legislation will make it easier for eligible individuals with prior convictions to have their records automatically dismissed after four years of completing their sentence. While exceptions to this relief exist, many individuals convicted of non-violent misdemeanors and felonies will benefit. However, individuals must confirm their eligibility and not assume their conviction was dismissed without confirmation from the DOJ.

Halley J. Peters can assist in ensuring the pertinent facts of your case are made clear to the prosecution at the critical stages of your case.  This improves your chances of having a felony wobbler charged as a misdemeanor, resulting in lesser penalties.  Contact Halley today at (949) 519-4955 for a free and confidential consultation today.  No concern is too small.

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