What Crimes Can be Expunged in California?

A California expungement is an avenue most reformed offenders can use to redeem themselves of their past convictions. Unfortunately, this relief does not apply to all offenses. The success of expungement will mostly depend on the severity of the crime, among other factors. Generally, if you were convicted of an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony and were not sentenced in state prison, you may be able to have your record expunged under California Penal Code 1203.4.

Expungement of infractions

Infractions, also known as violations, refer to petty offenses such as speeding tickets or some drug possession crimes.

Depending on the circumstances of each case, petty offenders often do not serve jail time. Petty offenders are usually lucky enough to get away with just paying fines and sometimes community service. As minor as infractions can be, they can still affect a person’s reputation for the time that they exist on record. Consequently, they ought to be expunged so that they do not turn up in background checks.

The Californian Penal Code allows for the expungement of the following infractions:

Provided that the following conditions are met, these infractions can be expunged:

  • One year lapse since sentencing
  • Payment of all fees, fines, and restitution
  • No new charges on record
  • The violation was not vehicle-related

Expungement of misdemeanor convictions

Misdemeanors are defined as criminal offenses that are punishable by a one-year jail sentence and fines.

Californian Penal Code allows for the expungement of the following misdemeanors:

  • Domestic battery as provided for under the Penal Code 243(e)(1)
  • Shoplifting
  • Public intoxication
  • Receiving stolen property as per PC 496
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Probation violations
  • Solicitation of prostitution as per PC 647(b)
  • Prostitution as per PC 647(b)
  • Reckless driving
  • Assault & battery as per PC 240 & 242
  • Drug possession
  • Indecent exposure
  • Violation of a protection order
  • Disturbing the peace
  • Drunk in public as per PC 647(f)

Conditions to meet for expungement of misdemeanor conviction(s):

  • The conviction took place in a state court
  • Completion of probation
  • In the absence of probation, one year lapse since the conviction
  • Payment of all fines
  • No open charges on record

Notably, federal convictions are not eligible for expungement.

Expungement of felony convictions

Felonies are regarded as the most serious of crimes. Felonies entail serious bodily harm to victims and white-collar crimes with a lot of money involved. Most times, the penalty for a felony is a sentence exceeding one year in state prison and sometimes in county jail, depending on the circumstances of each case.

California laws are strict on felony expungements. In California, a felony is only expunged where the prison sentence was served in county jail. While expungement is not available to those who serve their sentences in state prison, they can instead get a certificate of rehabilitation or a Gubernatorial pardon. 

The viable option available to offenders convicted of a felony is petitioning the court to have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor charge. After that, the offender can seek expungement as an option. However, the reduction of charges does not apply to felonies that resulted in the loss of life and sexual offenses.

Non-expungable crimes

Generally, most convictions can be expunged apart from the following:

  • Child pornography crimes
  • Certain sexual assault crimes, more so those involving a minor
  • Crimes involving lewd acts with a minor
  • Failure to submit to a police inspection of a vehicle

Why do you need to contact our Expungement Hero?

A California criminal defense lawyer knows how criminal law works in the state and common defenses that can work for each case. A great expungement lawyer can work with you throughout the entire expungement process, including helping with evaluating the details of your crime, determining your eligibility, and then filing for expungement. Contact Los Angeles’ Expungement Hero, Don Hammond, to discuss your options.

The Criminal Defense Hero Attorney Don Hammond


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