1203.4 Dismissal, Do I Qualify?

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suit and tie 2Imagine this scenario: You are looking for a job.  You have been searching for hours each day to find your dream job.  One day, you find it!  You apply and wait for them to call you for an interview.  A few weeks later you go in for your interview and you nail it.  They tell you that you sound like the right person for the job, but they must conduct a background check first, and they will let you know.  They call you a few days later and tell you that you have a “dent” in your record and they refuse to hire you.

Remember that rebellious year after high school when you got in trouble?  Maybe you were convicted of a DUI or some other misdemeanor?  You say to yourself, “But I took care of all that. My record should be clean!”  The bad news is, once you are convicted of a crime, meaning you’ve been found guilty of that crime, it stays on your record FOR-EV-ER.  Just because you paid your fines, and completed probation, does not mean the charge goes away.  For the rest of your life, on every application that asks if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you must to check the box ‘yes’ and use that little space provided to try and explain what happened.  You spend hours trying to explain how stupid you use to be, how it was all a big mistake and how you are a changed person now.

It doesn’t matter.  They still might not hire you simply because you have been convicted of a crime; no matter how small the crime was.

The good news is there is a way to clear your record and we can help.  The good news is found in Penal Code section 1203.4.  Section (a) states that:

In any case in which a defendant has fulfilled the conditions of probation for the entire period of probation, or has been discharged prior to the termination of the period of probation, or in any other case in which a court, in its discretion and the interests of justice, determines that a defendant should be granted the relief available under this section, the defendant shall, at any time after the termination of the period of probation, if he or she is not then serving a sentence for any offense, on probation for any offense, or charged with the commission of any offense, be permitted by the court to withdraw his or her plea of guilty or plea of nolo contendere and enter a plea of not guilty; or, if he or she has been convicted after a plea of not guilty, the court shall set aside the verdict of guilty; and, in either case, the court shall thereupon dismiss the accusations or information against the defendant and except as noted below, he or she shall thereafter be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which he or she has been convicted…

I know what you’re thinking: How is anyone able to understand what that says?  Let’s break it down together.

Basically, the law states that once you have completed probation, you are entitled to withdraw your guilty conviction and enter a plea of not guilty.  The court then dismisses the accusations against you and you are released from all penalties associated with that conviction.  As with most sections of the Penal Code, there are all sorts of exceptions listed within the section.  The California Courts Website gives you a few scenarios to help you know whether you are eligible for the 1203.4 dismissal:

Scenario 1: The courts MUST dismiss your conviction if:

  1. You were on probation for that conviction AND:
  2. You successfully completed probation or obtained early release AND
  3. You also have paid all the fines, and fees ordered by the court as part of your sentence AND
  4. You are not currently serving another sentence or on probation for another offense AND
  5. You are not currently charged with another offense.

If you can answer YES! to all of the above statements, then you are eligible for a 1203.4 dismissal.  CALL US!

Scenario 2: The Courts MUST dismiss your conviction if:

  1. You never received probation AND
  2. Your conviction was a misdemeanor or an infraction AND
  3.  It has been at least 1 year since the date you were convicted AND
  4. You have complied fully with the sentence of the court AND
  5. You are not currently serving another sentence AND
  6. You are not currently charged with another offense.

If you can answer YES! to all of the above statements, then you are eligible for a 1203.4 dismissal.  CALL US!

Scenario 3: The Courts MAY (it is the courts choice) dismiss your conviction if:

  1. You were on probation but screwed up a few times or were convicted of any offense listed in Vehicle Code section 12810(a) to (e) BUT:
  2. You have paid all the fines, restitution, and reimbursements ordered by the court as part of your sentence AND
  3. You are not currently charged with, on probation for, or serving a sentence for any other offense.

In this scenario, the court may dismiss your case if it feels like it.  It will be important to make a strong argument and attempt to convince the judge that you need the dismissal and, despite your screw up while on probation, you deserve it.  We have had great success getting clients the 1203.4 dismissal despite multiple violations of probation.  If you can answer YES! to all of the above statements, CALL US!

Exceptions: There are a few convictions that are not eligible for dismissal:

  1.  Any misdemeanor within the provisions of Vehicle Code section 42002.1;
  2.  Any infraction within the provisions of Vehicle Code section 42001;
  3.  Any violation of Penal Code section 286(c), 288, 288.5, 288a(c), or 289(j); or
  4.  A felony under Penal Code section 261.5(d)

Since most of us don’t have convictions under any of these sections, we don’t have to worry about them!

What does a 1203.4 dismissal mean for you?

It only means GOOD NEWS!  It means that your record will say the conviction was dismissed.  So, let’s go back to that dream job you’ve always wanted.  If you have successfully cleared your record via section 1203.4, when asked on the application if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you can answer ‘no’.  An employer cannot ask you for information regarding an arrest or detention that did not end in a conviction.

The only time you would ever have to disclose that conviction again, would be if you are applying for public office, for licensure by any state or local agency, or for contracting with the California State Lottery Commission.

1203.4 dismissals can change your life.  We’ve all wanted that dream job, but if we have convictions on our record, we will never get it.  Now there is a way to get rid of those convictions and we can help.  If you need help with your 1203.4 dismissal or you’re seeking other legal advice, feel free to reach me directly at The Law Offices of Mark A. Gallagher: (800) 797 – 8406 and email: jonmichael.bradley@gmail.com

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