Even if you have already been convicted of a crime, there are still legal avenues available to you to help alleviate some of the negative consequences of your conviction. To successfully convince a judge to grant any post-conviction relief, you need to present convincing evidence that you are either entitled to it as a matter of law or should be granted the relief in the interest of justice. We provide post-conviction services, including:
- Motions to Modify Probation
- Motions to Terminate Probation Early
- Motions to Reduce Felony Wobblers to Misdemeanor Convictions under PC 17(b)
- Sealing Arrest Records
When granted probation, you are subject to specific terms and conditions ordered by the court at sentencing. It is a trade-off. You are still subject to the powers of the state, but you do not have to serve your sentence in jail or prison; in exchange, you are expected to abide by the terms and conditions of probation. If you are on Formal or Supervised Felony Probation, chances are you have conditions of probation that severely monitor and control your day-to-day life.
In some cases, the terms and conditions of probation placed on you may severely and disproportionally impact your life. If so, we can petition the court to modify or change those conditions on your behalf.
One possible reason to seek modification is that a term or condition of probation prevents you from getting, maintaining, or being promoted at work. Another might be that the term or condition prevents you from using medications, including legal medical cannabis.
These motions are never a given so they must be prepared and presented with great attention to the details of the law, your crimes, and your life.
If the specific term or condition of probation is disproportionately affecting you, we may be able to help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.
EARLY TERMINATION OF PROBATION
In some cases, the court may consider terminating your probation successfully before the end date of your probationary period.
To have the best chance of success in such a motion, you will need legal counsel to petition the court, citing the law and circumstances why early termination of your probation is appropriate, necessary, and in the interests of justice. The court will require verifications that you've been in substantial compliance with your probation to date, that you've completed at least one-third to fifty percent of your term of probation, and written proof that you have fulfilled all the obligations placed on you at the time you were sentenced (i.e. fines, fees, community service work, jail time, counseling classes, drug treatment, drug screens, alcohol abuse programs. domestic violence counseling, anger management classes, etc).
Even when all of the above conditions are met, the court generally does not let a person off probation early unless there is a compelling reason to do so that is supported with strong evidence.
In January 2021, AB 1950 took effect and limited probation in misdemeanors to one year and felonies to two years. This law has been interpreted to be retroactive such that you can file to terminate or shorten probation if you were sentenced before January 1, 2021. There are exceptions in this law for code sections that explicitly require a longer period of probation (such as domestic violence, child abuse/endangerment, and DUIs. There are exceptions when the crime is a serious violent felony according to Penal Code 667.5(b)/(c) or where the person is required to register as a sex offender under Penal Code 290.
Contact us today to discuss your matter, and we can advise you on whether filing a motion to terminate probation early is right for you.
REDUCTIONS OF FELONY 'WOBBLER' TO A MISDEMEANOR
A felony wobbler is a crime that could have been charged by the prosecutor as a felony or a misdemeanor. Numerous crimes are classified as felony wobbler offenses, including some serious and violent felony convictions. If you were convicted of a felony wobbler offense, you might be eligible to have your felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor conviction. If you are unsure if your felony conviction is a wobbler offense, contact us today and as part of your free consultation, we will help you figure this out.
Having your felony reduced to a misdemeanor is considered "extraordinary relief" under the law. Accordingly, it can be difficult to attain but it can provide a plethora of short and long-term benefits making it well worth the effort. For instance, under California law, you can once again possess a firearm (assuming there are no other legal prohibitions in your case). You can legally write on job applications (with limited exceptions) that you have never been convicted of a felony. If your offense was a strike offense under the three strikes law, it can no longer be used against you as a prior strike in the future.
Not all criminal convictions need to lead to a lifetime criminal record. In some cases, the mark on your record can be virtually erased through an official and permanent sealing known as expungement. In a day and age where potential employers, those leasing a home, and the like, have taken to conducting thorough background checks on future employees and residents, having one or more marks on your criminal record could mean the difference between getting the job or house you're interested in and not. Therefore, expunging your criminal record under California Penal Code 1203.4 PC is quickly becoming the go-to solution for past convicts whose records are no longer a reflection of their current behaviors and attitudes.
ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR EXPUNGEMENT?
Expungement is not available for everyone. Certain conditions must be in place before the official sealing of one's record will be legally approved. Specifically, former persons who were criminally convicted must show that they completed probation and are not currently facing any additional criminal offenses; this includes being on probation for an offense or serving an official sentence for an offense. Crucial to the stipulations of an expungement is completing a probationary period. Only those individuals who were granted permission to complete their sentencing on probation will be given the option to have their criminal record expunged.
Successfully expunging your criminal record requires that you complete the terms of your probation in full. Failure to comply with even one aspect of your probation can greatly affect your consideration for expungement. You must show that your probation was fulfilled satisfactorily: fines must have been paid in full, restitution must be paid in full, all court-ordered counseling programs must be successfully completed, and any community service hours ordered must be completed and fully recorded.
BENEFITS OF EXPUNGEMENT
Being arrested can be embarrassing. Being convicted even more so. No one likes being reminded of their past mistakes. Formally having your record sealed and virtually hidden can free you from the restraints, biases, and prejudices typically associated with persons with a criminal past.
Included in the benefits provided to those who expunge their criminal record are:
- The ability to more easily secure employment; according to state law, employers cannot use discriminatory means to fire or resist hiring an employee that was arrested but not convicted, nor are they permitted to make inquiries on a past arrest that did not result in a conviction.
- The ability to more easily obtain a state professional license
- The potential ability to avoid certain consequences such as deportation that are connected to immigration issues
- The ability to remain credible in the court of law when called upon to act as a witness
APPLICATION AND OBTAINMENT OF AN EXPUNGEMENT
Applying for expungement of your criminal record requires that you first meet the conditions denoted above; when these have been established as complete, you may then permissibly petition the court to expunge your criminal record. This is a process that cannot begin until you have completed the period of your probation. The process of expunging a record is subject to the court and jurisdiction under which it is completed. Generally, you should allot one to two months for the process to be completed; however, the procedures involved can be expedited in certain circumstances, particularly if you are looking for employment.
The expungement process can include several steps, but none require you to appear in court. Generally, the state's expungement process calls for the appearance of your attorney, to appear on your behalf. This is the case in all stages of the legal proceedings involved in your expungement. When the process has been completed in its entirety, you will no longer need to worry about a past criminal record. You can solidly answer "no" to anyone who questions if you have a criminal history. Bearing in mind that certain government agencies are allowed to see sealed records and may inquire, for security reasons, about sealed records. Other than that, however, you are free.
SEALING YOUR ARREST RECORD
There are two main avenues to seal your record of arrest where there is no criminal complaint filed or no conviction obtained (i.e. dismissal after filing).
Penal Code 851.8 allows for a motion to the court asking for a finding of factual innocence. Before filing, a petition for factual innocence should be served on the arresting law enforcement agency and the District Attorney in the county where the arrest occurred (the motion for factual innocence cannot be filed until at least 60 days after serving the petition).
The second avenue to seal your arrest record is a petition to the court under Penal Code 851.91 which does not require a finding of factual innocence. Penal Code 851.91, which went into effect in 2018, will be more inclusive of the eligible persons compared to PC 851.8, and in some cases, the relief is mandatory.
Make an appointment today for your free consultation regarding petitioning the court for an expungement of your conviction.