Expungements, Early Termination, and Felony Reduction

Expungement

An expungement will allow you to legally say you were not convicted of a particular crime. This can be important if you are applying for a job, certain professional certificates, low-income housing, or aid. If the Court grants your petition for expungement, you still may not own or possess a gun or hold public office, and if you were required to register as a sex offender, that requirement remains. An expungement does not erase the conviction. In fact, a felony offense may still be considered as a prior conviction for sentencing purposes in a subsequent conviction.

 

Early Termination of Probation

If your performance on probation (formal or informal) has been good and you have successfully completed at least half your period of probation, the court may consider releasing you from probation early.  The court will consider the victim's welfare and your prior offenses.

 

Felony Reduction

Many offenses can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. A felony is more serious than a misdemeanor.  If you were convicted of the felony version, you may petition the court to reduce the severity to a misdemeanor.  Generally, the court wants to see you have paid restitution and a significant period of time has elapsed since the conviction. Some offenses, especially certain sex and drug offenses, exist only as felonies and cannot be reduced.

 

Additional Options

An Adult Record Seal provides for the destruction of any arrest record for a crime for which you were ultimately not charged or found not guilty. Current or future employers will not be able to see any record of the arrest.

A Certificate of Rehabilitation is the Court's showing a significant amount of time has passed since your conviction and you have lived an upstanding, crime free life. The Court's standards for granting this are very high. It does not erase the felony conviction or seal the criminal record. In fact, the felony offense may still be considered as a prior conviction for sentencing subsequent convictions. It does, however, restore the right to vote and legally permit you to answer on employment applications you have no record of conviction.

A Governor's Pardon or Gubernatorial Pardon is an honor granted to people who have demonstrated exemplary behavior following their conviction. Individuals who have been convicted of a crime in California may apply to the Governor for a gubernatorial pardon.

 

How Do I Get an Expungement, Early Termination, or Felony Reduction?

Important for each case:

  1. Get a blank petition and order from the court clerk, Room 102 of the main court house, or download from the internet
  2. Fill out the petition and order
  3. Attach supporting documentation
  4. Make five copies of all the above
  5. File all six packets (original and five copies) with court clerk, Room 102; pay filing fee (include a self-addressed, stamped envelope)
  6. For felonies, appear in court on the appointed date/time; for misdemeanors, the court will contact you by mail
  7. You do not need to contact Probation


Key Considerations

  • Victim restitution is paid in full (if ordered)
  • Fines and fees are paid in full
  • Classes are completed (if ordered)
  • Community service work is done (if ordered)
  • Include proof of all the above
  • No new convictions
  • No pending court cases
  • No warrants


Q & A

Can I file for expungement while I am still on probation?

  • Yes, but you will have to file a petition for early termination of probation at the same time.

What if I have more than one conviction? Do I have to file petitions one at a time?

  • You can file them all at the same time.

Will the conviction still show up when an employer does a background check on me?

  • Yes, but it will be noted as “dismissed."

I think I got convicted in another county or state. What do I do?

  • You will need to contact the jurisdiction where you were convicted unless your case was transferred to Sacramento County by the court.

I don't have much money. Can I file a petition anyway?

  • Yes. Download a fee waiver form from the internet or ask the court clerk for one. You must submit the completed fee waiver form when you file your petition.

Do I need to contact Probation?

  • No

Will a Public Defender represent me?

  • No

Do I need a lawyer?

  • No, but you may hire one if you wish.

I was ordered to do community service work, but I can't find proof I did it. What will happen?

  • Try to get a copy of your completion records from your community service provider; in the absence of proof, Probation will have to recommend denying your petition. The judge may wish to discuss the matter with you.

What if the judge denies my petition?

  • If you believe you have good reason for the judge to grant your petition, you may contact his or her clerk and seek a “reconsideration." Be prepared to support your argument.


Resources

Petitions and filing:
Sacramento County Courthouse
720 9th Street, Room 102
Sacramento, CA  95814
(916) 874-5744

Petitions and forms:
http://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm

Payment of restitution, fines, ability to pay evaluation, and fees:
Department of Revenue Recovery
700 H Street, Suite #6720
Sacramento, CA  95814
(916) 875-7500

Help filling out petitions:
Voluntary Legal Services Program
Criminal Records Expungement Clinic
2411 Alhambra Boulevard, Suite #110
Sacramento, CA  95817
(916) 551-2155