POST-CONVICTION RELIEF

CRIMINAL DEFENSE HERO

Post-Conviction Relief

You’ve finally done your time and paid back your debt to society, but the man is still trying to keep you down. Do you have an old conviction that is hindering your job search, custody dispute, immigration status, or holding you back in other ways? Now that you have served your sentence and you are trying to get your life back on track, it’s time to look at getting your old conviction(s) expunged.

We offer criminal defense, DUI defense, traffic defense and post conviction relief services where you can get your felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors (including Proposition 47), get misdemeanors dismissed and expunged from clients’ records, and file pardon petitions and certificates of rehabilitation.

We understand the long-term ramifications of criminal convictions and represent many “Lifers” – people with term-to-life (15-Life, 25-Life, etc.) sentences at their California Board of Parole Hearings parole suitability hearings. As an expert post conviction attorney, we help prepare the client for the hearing, including several visits to help the client understand the four pillars of parole suitability — responsibility, culpability, insight, and remorse. We also connect the client with resources in the community to shore up his/her parole plans, including transition homes, 12-step programs, and job opportunities. And we work with family members and loved ones to help them write meaningful support letters that will actually be considered by the BPH panel.

For immediate help, call 323.529.3660.

Expungements

The repercussions of an arrest and criminal charge in the state of California do not end when you close the case, serve the jail time, or pay the fines. Running into trouble with the law can follow you for the rest of your life because criminal record is public and indexed by information companies. Carrying around a criminal record can cause numerous problems in your life, like trouble finding a job. That is why, post conviction relief is very important and an experienced post conviction attorney can get your felony reduced to a misdemeanor or your felony can be completely expunged. In this way, you can get conviction removed from your record through post conviction appeal.

It is your right to get post conviction relief because you shouldn’t have to keep paying the price for past mistakes. You’ve already paid your debt to society. With an expungement, you can have a clean slate and avoid the negative consequences of a public criminal record. 

WHAT IS EXPUNGEMENT AND WHY DO YOU NEED ONE?

Expungement is the “record redo” you get when after making mistakes that landed you in jail. By making post conviction appeal you can get expungement, which means the state will retain a record of criminal convictions, but the public will no longer have access to that information.

A public criminal record can negatively impact your life in many ways, but the place where most people struggle is the job market. A regular background check could show a prospective employer your past conviction or criminal case and he or she may use that information to deny you a job. An expungement prevents any of the public from seeing your criminal record.

*Special Note: If the prospective employer demands fingerprints submissions or a print of your California Department of Justice Report, your record might indicate that there was a case in the past. The record will only show that your case was dismissed and there will not be any convictions.

WHEN DO YOU QUALIFY FOR AN EXPUNGEMENT?

An expungement can be immensely helpful, but unfortunately, not everyone qualifies. Not all ex-convicts are eligible to receive expungement. You only qualify if you meet all 3 of the following criteria.

  • You must not be on probation at the time of application.
  • You must not be charged in any current criminal cases.
  • The crime that put you on the record must not have resulted in a state prison sentence.

WHEN DON’T YOU QUALIFY FOR EXPUNGEMENT?

The law does not permit expungements for sex crimes and cases of serious vehicle code violation. The only time a felony can be expunged is if it’s been reduced to a misdemeanor, which most felonies can unless the defendant was sentenced to state prison.

YOU ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR EXPUNGEMENT IF:

  • You are at present, being charged with any crime in any jurisdiction;
  • You are presently on probation, obligatory supervision from law enforcement, or on parole within any jurisdiction.
  • You are currently doing jail time in any jurisdiction;
  • You were sentenced to state prison for your conviction.

NOTE: Some judges may terminate your probation early to make you eligible for expungement. An attorney can help with this.

If you did serve a state prison sentence, do not despair; you may still qualify for a certificate of rehabilitation and/or a governor’s pardon. Contact a post conviction attorney for more information.

EXPUNGING A FELONY CONVICTION IN CALIFORNIA

If your felony conviction was not originally resolved as a misdemeanor, petitioning the court to reduce the charges is the starting place for an expungement. You and your post conviction lawyer must prove to the judge that you are deeply remorseful for your crimes and a positive force in the community. It may be helpful in getting post conviction relief. Moreover, it may help to participate in several non-profit activities.

In some cases, expungement may be granted after your attorney successfully files two of the following petitions: the PC 17b and the PC 1203.4. If successful, the former (PC 17b) will reduce your felony to a mere misdemeanor and the latter (PC 1203.4) gets the reduced charged dismissed completely.

HOW TO EXPUNGE A MISDEMEANOR IN CALIFORNIA

The requirements to expunge a California misdemeanor are outlined in the Penal Code section1203.4a. To begin, your post conviction lawyer will obtain your criminal record copy, then complete and submit the CR-180 in the county of conviction, with the applicable filing fee, and serve a copy of the application to the prosecuting agency.

HOW MUCH DOES AN EXPUNGEMENT TYPICALLY COST?

In California, petition court fees for an expungement are in the cost range of $100 to $400, depending on the serving courthouse. Attorneys charge a sum between $400 to $1,400 per criminal charge. Attorney fees could rise to between $1000 to $4000 if the criminal case is complicated. If you can’t afford the fee to file a petition for expungement, you or your attorney may request a fee waiver. This can be achieved by completing (Form FW-001).

CHOOSING AN EXPERIENCED POST CONVICTION ATTORNEY FOR YOUR EXPUNGEMENT

Your ability to get a job, attend school, or find housing can be hampered with a mere misdemeanor conviction. An expungement can be a lifeline, but to get the post conviction successfully removed from your record, you need an experienced post conviction attorney. An expungement and all the petitions and paperwork associated with it can be textually dense and confusing. Your ideal attorney must have handled at least two successful expungements in the past.

An experienced post conviction attorney comes with relevant and vital contacts, which can be crucial in a time sensitive scenario. You do not have to keep paying for past mistakes and need post conviction relief. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Don Hammond has successfully obtained dozens of expungements in several counties and is very experienced with the process. Contact Don Hammond to get your criminal record expunged to get a new beginning

Parole & Probation

Probation and parole are both alternatives to time spent behind bars, and while they both serve somewhat similar functions, they are fundamentally different. At the core, both probation and parole seek to balance the offender’s opportunity for rehabilitation with the importance of public safety.

PROBATION

Probation is a period of supervision instead of incarceration in county jail or state prison. In some cases, judges may suspend a jail sentence and give the offender the opportunity to demonstrate their desire to rehabilitate without serving any time at all. If the offender fulfills all of the conditions of his or her probation, they don’t have to serve any time in jail or prison. In other cases, judges will sentence offenders to a short term in jail plus a period of probation to follow. Probation lengths typically vary between one and ten years, depending upon the nature of the offense and other factors.

While on probation, the offender must meet certain conditions. Any violations of these conditions can result in probation revocation (cancellation) and incarceration. Among the most common conditions are:

  • Seeking and maintaining approved employment.
  • Attending school.
  • Participating in substance abuse, anger management, parenting, domestic abuse, or some other type of counseling.
  • Paying fines, court costs, attorney fees, and/or restitution to victim(s).
  • Adhering to specific rules of conduct.
  • Abiding by a curfew.
  • Participating in drug testing as required.
  • Staying away from certain people or avoiding gang affiliation.
  • Not committing any other crimes.

Summary probation (called ‘informal probation’ in Orange County and ‘summary probation’ in Los Angeles County) does not require any check-ins. Formal probation – also called ‘reporting probation’ – requires check-ins (usually monthly) with a probation officer (PO). The PO monitors the probationer’s progress and provides regular reports to the judge to inform of any rule violations or other failures to abide by the conditions ordered.

If probation is revoked, the offender returns to court for their final sentencing, during which they may be sent to jail or prison. If the offender was originally given a suspended sentence, then they may be sent to jail or prison to serve the full sentence.

PAROLE

Parole is conditional early release from incarceration, allowing a parolee to serve the remainder of their sentence in the community. One of the purposes of parole is to assist the offender with their reintegration into society, which can be quite challenging after long periods of incarceration.

The opportunity for parole is largely determined by the offender’s conduct while in prison. Unlike probation, which is granted and/or modified at the discretion of the trial judge, determination and administration of parole is handled by a parole board. In California, the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) is responsible for all parole matters.

Similar to probationers, parolees also must meet certain conditions. Parolees report to a parole officer who monitors their progress. If an offender fails to comply with the conditions of parole, the supervising officer can file a report with the BPH that may lead to revocation of the offender’s parole and a return to prison to serve some or all of their remaining sentence.

Record Sealing

Any arrest by a law enforcement agency means that there will be records of the entire incident(s). These records become accessible to the general public during background checks. However, following the amendment of  Section 851.90 of the California Penal Code, individuals who have been arrested but not convicted of a crime can petition a court to have their arrests records sealed to the general public. The governor of the state of California signed into law the Consumer Arrest Record Equity (CARE) Act last year as a means of helping people right their wrongs. The CARE Act provides accused individuals with an opportunity to start afresh without experiencing discrimination based on their history of arrest.

WHEN DO YOU QUALIFY FOR RECORD SEALING?

An expungement can be immensely helpful, but unfortunately, not everyone qualifies. Not all ex-convicts are eligible to receive expungement. You only qualify if you meet all 3 of the following criteria.

  • You must not be on probation at the time of application.
  • You must not be charged in any current criminal cases.
  • The crime that put you on the record must not have resulted in a state prison sentence.
ELIGIBILITY FOR PETITION 
 
For the court to grant the request to seal records, the accused must meet certain requirements. For example, records can only be granted a seal under CARE if an arrest never ended in a conviction. Other conditioned for approval include:
  • There were no charges filed following an arrest
  • Charges were filed but they were dismissed before conviction
  • Charges were filed, the accused proceeded to trial but the court made a no guilty ruling
  • The accused was not convicted following a successful pre-trial diversion program
  •  

A person accused of an offense is ineligible to petition for such action under the following conditions:

  • If the statute of limitations of the crime has not yet expired making them subject to newer charges
  • Following an arrest for murder with no trial leading to acquittal
  • If an individual intentionally evaded prosecution either through fraudulent activities or fleeing jurisdiction.

Even if the law states that granting a request to sealing records is a right for each individual arrested and not convicted for a crime, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, people who have been arrested several times for either child, domestic, or elder abuse may have a difficult time trying to prove that sealing their records would serve the interests of justice. In other words, if the individual shows a pattern of arrests in any form of humanitarian abuse, their chances diminish drastically. This law tends to favor those with a relatively clean background since courts often look to meet the needs of the public first.

THE PROCESS OF SEALING ARREST RECORDS
 
Contrary to what many people believe, the process of getting one’s arrest records sealed is not automatic. Sealing one’s records requires great knowledge, time, and patience. To initiate the process, the defense attorney must file a petition in the court or city where the arrest occurred. The defendant then serves the petition to both the law enforcement agency that carried out the arrest and the prosecution. The petition must include details relevant and crucial to the case including the name and date of birth of the accused, the date of the arrest, the city or county of arrest, the name of the arresting law enforcement agency, the charges filed, and a statement showing why the court should grant the petition.
 
Once the petition is shared among the parties, the prosecuting attorney may request a hearing to argue why the court should grant the request. The judge will then examine your records to determine whether such an action will serve the interests of justice. If successful, the court will relieve the accused of all penalties and liabilities. The court will also forward the order to the arresting law enforcement agency, Department of Justice, and local agency in charge of history records. From this point on, the arrest is sealed and will not appear in background checks.

 

BENEFITS OF SEALING ARREST RECORDS
 
The most obvious benefits of having one’s arrest records sealed is that it opens up more employment opportunities and activities. Employers usually conduct background checks to determine whether their potential employees are law-abiding. An arrest record is reason to exclude an individual for potential employment. Sealing one’s records makes them eligible for professional certificates, licenses, loan application and housing relief.
 

Despite the benefits of sealing arrest records, those arrested or charged for misconduct may face a difficult journey trying to prove why their records should be sealed. The burden of proof falls on the defendant to show that they have faced hardships as a result of such a record and evidence of rehabilitation. People who wish to have their records sealed are advised against seeking such action without legal advice. Californians should also keep in mind that a sealed record does not mean complete discretion. The record can still be used against you when facing future charges. These records are also accessible to the criminal justice agency for reference and periodical assessment. Moreover, the law requires people who have had their records sealed to disclose the record information to a public office, peace officer employment position, and state licensing. People who wish to have their records sealed are advised against seeking such action without legal advice since the process requires vast knowledge and experience in criminal law.

HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO DO THIS?

You may file an application for sealing the record of an arrest or detention within two years of that arrest or detention. If that two-year mark has passed, a judge is not required to hear your case but may consider it based on good cause.

HOW DO I GET STARTED?

The process for requesting the sealing of your records involves different steps depending on the circumstances. 

If you were arrested but no charges were filed, the first step is to contact the law enforcement agency involved in your case. For example, if you were arrested by the Long Beach Police Department, you would begin by appealing to them. Once you petition that particular agency, they have the right to decide in favor of, or against your sealing request. If they agree that you are factually innocent, they will seal the arrest record in question for three years. After that period of time has passed, they will destroy the record. If the law enforcement agency does not find in your favor or does not respond within 60 days of your petition, you will need to move on to a different tactic – appealing to a court with jurisdiction.

However, if the record you are interested in sealing is connected to a case during which you were acquitted by a jury, or if your case was dismissed after charges were filed, then you must skip the police department and proceed directly to petitioning the court. Once that is done, if the judge believes you are factually innocent, he will order the records sealed and eventually destroyed. 

DO I NEED A LAWYER TO TAKE CARE OF SEALING AND DESTROYING MY ARREST RECORDS?

A experienced attorney will make the process go more smoothly. The applicant carries a burden to prove his or her innocence. A lawyer can help by thoroughly researching your case and making sure you’ve completed all the necessary paperwork in a timely and accurate manner. The police and/or the judge have the right to review police reports and other evidence that may sway them towards making a decision that’s not in your favor. If you hired an attorney to help you navigate this process, you’ll have an expert advocate who will help persuade the law enforcement agency or judge that you were wrongly accused. This task can be rather intimidating for an average person with no legal training.

WHO CAN SEE MY RECORDS AFTER THEY ARE SEALED? 

In short, the answer is no one. If your records are ordered legally sealed, you can accurately say that you have never been arrested for a crime. This means if an employer asks that question, there is nothing to which you must admit. As far as the courts are concerned, you do not have an arrest record after sealing the record of it.

 

Not only can this help you with securing a job but it may also make it easier to find a place to live, or even to get accepted to college or other educational programs. It’s well worth the time it takes to fill out the paperwork, and the cost of hiring an attorney will seem minimal compared to the feeling of freedom and relief when that arrest record disappears from your life.

Close Menu