A judgment for conviction is not the end of your criminal case. A criminal conviction in California can have serious and life-changing consequences. In addition to the immediate ramifications such as incarceration and fines, the conviction remains in your record and affects different aspects of your life. Fortunately, the guilty verdict is not the end of your life. There are several post-conviction proceedings you may need to schedule and attend to eliminate or shorten your sentence.
Common post-conviction matters you may have to deal with include probation violation, expungement, record sealing, and certificate of rehabilitation, among others. For this reason, you are not done with the justice system until you have completed all your sentences and have petitioned to remove the conviction from your record. If you or a loved one is dealing with post-conviction proceedings in Los Angeles, CA, you will benefit from the legal insight we offer at Los Angeles Criminal Attorney.
Some of the matters you may have to deal with after your conviction in California include the following:
Under California Penal Code 1203.4, an expungement is a post-conviction relief where the court allows you to withdraw a “guilty” or “no contest” plea and reenter the not guilty plea before the dismissal of your case. An expungement will release you from most of the negative consequences of your conviction.
You can only expunge your criminal record under Penal Code 1203.4 if you meet the following eligibility criteria:
- You must have completed your probation successfully. If probation was part of your sentence, you must complete the full probation term and follow all the conditions before petitioning the court to expunge your record.
- You should be facing criminal charges or a conviction for another offense.
- The crime you seek expungement must be a misdemeanor or felony that could be prosecuted as a misdemeanor. If you faced a felony conviction and spent time in federal or state prison, you cannot expunge your record under this statute.
Expunging a Felony Conviction
The only felony convictions you can expunge are those resulting from wobbler charges. Wobblers can attract felony or misdemeanor charges depending on the circumstances. If you wish to expunge a wobbler conviction, you must ask the court to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor before filing the expungement petition. You can have a reduction by proving to the judge that you have taken full responsibility for your actions and are successfully rehabilitated.
For other felony convictions, your eligibility to expunge the record depends on whether or not you served jail or prison time. If you have served jail time and probation instead of prison, you can expunge your conviction after living in the jurisdiction of your conviction for up to five years.
Benefits of expunging a conviction in California
Expunging your record involves filing a petition and attending a hearing. If the court grants your PC 1203.4 petition, you could enjoy the following benefits:
- Ease finding employment. Criminal background checks are common among employers in California. When a conviction appears in the record, the employer could deny you a job. However, employers cannot legally discriminate against you based on an expunged conviction.
- Help to obtain a state license. A criminal conviction can cause you to lose your professional license and make it challenging to obtain a new one. Although you must disclose an expunged record, many licensing agencies can overlook the expunged record from your record.
- Expunging a record allows you to act as a witness in court. If you are a witness in a civil case, the opposing attorney cannot use your expunged conviction to discredit your testimony.
- Less social stigma. The stigma accompanying a criminal conviction can follow you for the rest of your life. Expunging your conviction can help reduce this stigma and change how people view you.
Although expungement offers post-conviction relief for many defendants, you cannot regain your gun rights for expunging a conviction. Additionally, this process does not Remove your sex offender registration status.
Sealing Arrest Records
Criminal records are public records, meaning arrest charges and convictions are accessible to anyone. California law allows you to lead your life without letting your past linger. Sometimes, an arrest record without a conviction can significantly impact your life. Sealing your arrest record is one of the ways through which you can avoid the negative consequences of an arrest that did not end in a conviction.
The main difference between expungement and record sealing is that expungement removes your criminal conviction. In contrast, sealing destroys an arrest record or record of charges that did not attract a criminal conviction. Under California PC 851.87, you are eligible to seal your arrest record under the following circumstances:
You faced an arrest, but the prosecution did not file charges. Additionally, the statute of limitations for filing felony or misdemeanor charges must have elapsed.
- The prosecutor filed charges against you, and the case was dismissed without a possibility of refiling.
- Your case went to court, and you were found not guilty of the charges.
- You faced a conviction that the appeals court vacated.
- The court dismissed your charges after you completed a pretrial diversion program.
Under the old law, a petitioner would shoulder the burden of proving their factual innocence to seal an arrest record. However, after passing Senate Bill 393, the burden was shifted to the prosecutor to prove that you are not entitled to seal the record. If you faced additional charges connected to the arrest or you faced an arrest for murder, you cannot seal your record in California.
Another group of individuals who cannot seal their record is the defendants with a pattern of domestic violence-related arrests. The process of sealing an arrest record entails the following:
- File a petition with the county where you were arrested.
- The court serves the police and prosecuting agency with your petition.
- The judge holds a hearing where the prosecutor can contest the petition.
Unlike an expungement, sealing an arrest record means that your record is destroyed and ceases to be a public record. Therefore, employers and landlords cannot use the record against you. Records that are destroyed when you seal them under PC 851.87 include the following:
- Booking photos.
- Police reports.
- Rap sheet entries.
Although sealing your record destroys it effectively, it can be used if you face charges for another offense. Additionally, you must disclose the record when applying for public office or employment as a peace officer.
Certificate of Rehabilitation (COR)
A rehabilitation certificate is a post-conviction relief issued when the judge is convinced that you have been rehabilitated from criminal conduct. Receiving a certificate of rehabilitation serves as an application for a governor’s pardon. Although COR does not clear your criminal record, the court issues an order which states that you are a law-abiding citizen.
You are eligible to receive a COR under the following circumstances:
- You haven’t faced a conviction for a new offense since the dismissal or completion of your sentence.
- You are not on felony probation.
- You have been a resident of California for up to five years.
- You have been rehabilitated for a specific number of years, depending on the nature of your conviction.
You can file for the Certificate of Rehabilitation if you meet the criteria and the specific period has passed. A petition for the COR is obtained from the superior court. In addition to submitting the petition, the court requires you to present all information regarding your convictions. The information you must supply for each conviction includes the following:
- The county where your conviction occurred.
- Your conviction dates.
- The charges for which you were convicted.
- The type of sentence imposed by the court after your conviction.
- The date you were released from jail or prison.
- The date when the court discharged you from parole or probation.
The judge may consider the following factors before granting your certificate of rehabilitation:
- Evidence that you are in school or employed.
- Evidence of volunteer work.
- Your work history.
- Recommendation letters from family, friends, employers, or coworkers.
- Proof of residence.
- A statement indicating your reason for seeking the Certificate of Rehabilitation.
Receiving a COR has some benefits offered by the governor’s pardon. You will also be relieved from the requirement to register as a sex offender in California. Failure to file the right documents when filing a COR petition can result in a denial. Therefore, seeking legal guidance is key.
A military diversion is a pretrial diversion where the judge suspends criminal proceedings for misdemeanor crimes committed by individuals who have been in the military. Due to the harsh conditions that individuals are exposed to while serving in the military, these individuals could suffer mental health issues and trauma while transitioning to civilian life.
If you have served in the military and are dealing with trauma, you can avoid jail time for your misdemeanor charges through a military diversion. The military diversion programs last between one to two years. While in the diversion program, you will undergo treatment and counseling to help you cope with the stress and disorders you suffered in the military.
Military diversion is not automatic. If you suffer from mental, sexual, or emotional trauma from your time in the military, your attorney can request the court for a diversion in your case. The judge will then order an assessment before determining your eligibility for the diversion. Some of the conditions for participating in a military diversion program include the following:
- Mandatory court appearances.
- Attend counseling for substance abuse and domestic violence.
- Random drug and alcohol testing.
- Satisfactory progress reports from the agencies monitoring the diversion program.
California courts offer probation for first-time offenders facing misdemeanor or felony charges. Although probation allows a defendant to spend part of their sentence out of custody and in community service, the judge imposes various conditions when ordering this sentence. Common conditions for misdemeanor and felony probation may include:
- Regular check-ins with your probation officer.
- Avoiding committing other crimes while on probation.
- Pay court fines and victim restitution.
- Mandatory drug and alcohol testing.
- Mental health and drug counseling.
- Issuance of protective orders.
Failure to follow through with one or multiple probation conditions can result in an arrest and charges for probation violation. In California, your probation violation hearing could be initiated by a prosecutor, district attorney, or probation officer. A probation violation hearing is held before a judge, and the burden of proof needed to establish your violation is lower than that needed in a criminal court. Your punishment for a probation violation will vary depending on the following factors:
- Your criminal history.
- The period you had served probation before the violation.
- The severity of your violation.
- Recommendations from the probation department.
If the court finds that you did not violate your probation, the judge will order that you return to complete your probation sentence with your original conditions. However, you could face the following consequences for your violations:
- Revocation of your probation with the reinstatement of the original jail or prison sentence.
- Reinstatement of your probation with harsher or additional conditions.
- Revocation of your probation and reinstatement of the maximum sentence for your crimes.
- Extension of your probation period.
Setting Aside a Conviction
If you are an immigrant in the United States, a conviction for some offense will result in serious immigration consequences like deportation or inadmissibility. Some offenses which attract this type of action include violent felonies, sex crimes, and crimes of moral turpitude. Under California PC 1016.5, the court must advise you about the possibility of deportation before entering a guilty plea to your case.
If the judge fails to inform you about these consequences, they will be guilty of failing to comply, and you can legally withdraw that plea. If the prosecutor in your case cannot refute the presumption, the court can vacate your conviction. The same statute allows defendants to file a motion to vacate a conviction because the person did not fully understand the consequences of their actions.
The success of your motion to vacate your conviction will be based on these factors:
- Timely motion. You must file a motion to set aside your conviction as soon as you learn about the consequences of your guilty plea.
- Your conviction must have at least three immigration consequences.
- The judge failed to advise you on the consequences of entering a guilty plea.
- You would not have entered the plea if you knew about the consequences.
Vacating a Conviction Under Penal Code 1437.7
If a prejudicial error makes it impossible for you to understand, defend yourself or accept the consequences of your conviction, the conviction is legally unacceptable. If you seek to set aside your conviction under this statute, you must move with due diligence following:
- The date you receive a notice to appear in immigration court.
- The date when the court decided on your removal from the country.
The court could vacate your sentence under these circumstances:
- There is a reasonable belief that you acted with due diligence.
- You are a victim of prejudicial error.
Early Termination of Probation
After a conviction in California, the court could sentence you to probation instead of prison time. Probation lasts one to five years, depending on the nature of your charges. Under CPC 1203.3, judges have the discretion to grant early probation termination. Completing your probation term is one of the requirements you must meet before expunging your criminal conviction. Therefore, an early termination allows you to file an early petition for expungement.
Your attorney must file a petition with the court and prosecuting agency before the date of your early probation termination hearing. By speaking with the prosecutor, your attorney can explain why you deserve the early termination and convince the prosecuting attorney to support your motion. Since an early probation termination hearing is less formal than a criminal hearing, your attorney can attend the hearing for you.
In addition to an early petition for expungement, having your probation terminated releases you from the requirement to follow the probation conditions. This will reduce your risk of being charged with probation violations and spending jail time for the violation.
Although Penal Code 1203.3 allows a judge to terminate your probation at any point, the judges will often wait after you have served at least a year of your sentence for misdemeanor probation and eighteen months of felony probation. When deciding on your motion for an early probation termination, the judge will consider the following factors:]
- The seriousness of your criminal conviction.
- The opinion of the district attorney and probation officer.
- The effect of probation on your life.
- Your criminal history.
- Whether or not you have been cited for probation violation.
If the judge agrees to terminate your probation early, the court will reduce your felony conviction to a misdemeanor and expunge the conviction.
Mental Health Diversion
Under California PC 1001.36, a defendant can obtain a mental health diversion instead of the common penalties accompanying a criminal conviction. This diversion program allows you to undergo treatment for your mental conditions. The court will discharge your criminal charges when you complete the treatment program.
While many pretrial diversions do not admit individuals facing felony charges, Penal Code 100.36 is available for defendants facing either a misdemeanor or felony charge. You will only enter a mental health diversion program if you meet the following eligibility criteria:
You have a Mental Health or Psychological Condition
You will qualify to enter the pretrial diversion under PC 100.36 if you suffer from a psychological or mental health condition listed under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Common examples of mental disorders addressed under this statute include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. The court ascertains that you have a specific condition through the testimony of a mental health professional.
Your Mental or Psychological Disorder was a Major Factor in your Criminal Conduct
When the court listens to your arguments regarding your mental condition, the judge must be convinced that the condition contributed to your criminal conduct. Your attorney can argue that you presented symptoms of a psychological disorder before committing the crime.
You are a Mental Health Treatment Candidate
Before the court sends you to a mental health diversion program, the judge must receive assurance from a team of mental health professionals that you would benefit from treatment. Additionally, the symptoms that led you to commit the crime must be minimized through the treatments offered in the diversion program.
You are not a Threat to Public Safety
After receiving mental health treatment, the court will dismiss your case without any criminal ramifications. You will not spend time in jail for your crimes. Before allowing you to enter the mental health diversion program, the judge must ensure that you are not a threat to the safety of other individuals in the community.
You Waive the Rights to a Speedy Trial
Every criminal defendant has a right to a speedy trial. Since the mental health diversion program freezes your prosecution process, you cannot enjoy the right to a speedy trial. If you wish to participate in a diversion under PC 1001.36, you must give up the speedy trial right.
A mental health diversion includes inpatient and outpatient treatment, lasting one to one and a half years. A judge will consider the arguments from your defense attorney and prosecutor to determine the type of program that best suits your situation.
Find a Skilled Criminal Lawyer Near Me
Your battles with the legal system do not end when you face a conviction, and the court imposes its punishment. After your conviction, you must follow through with your sentence, like serving probation. Additionally, the consequences of a conviction can follow you even after completing your sentence. Therefore, you can find legal ways to ease the disabilities associated with your conviction.
Whether you seek relief from expungement, record sealing, and rehabilitation or are battling charges for probation violation, dealing with post-conviction matters can be complicated. Therefore, seeking the guidance of a skilled criminal lawyer is vital. At Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, we offer competent legal guidance to navigate your post-conviction issues in Los Angeles, CA, and ensure the best possible outcome. Contact us today at 424-333-0943 to discuss your case.