Expungement of criminal records (either arrest or conviction) is of critical concern to anyone with a prior conviction, or contemplating a guilty or no contest plea to a current offense. Expungement is a term that means different things in different jurisdictions; generally, it refers to the cleansing of one's criminal record, or the sealing and destruction of arrest and/or conviction information.
Expungement can take many forms. The relief available will depend on the type of conviction (misdemeanor, felony, or "wobbler"), the type of sentence received (probation with or without jail time, state prison), the age of the offender (juvenile or adult), and whether a claim for factual innocence can be made out.
California criminal offenses are defined by the type of punishment that can be imposed. Misdemeanors are offenses that are punishable by a fine, and/or up to one year in county jail. Felonies are punishable by a fine, and by custody in state prison. Wobblers are cases that can be punished by either up to one year in county jail, or by imprisonment in state prison.
Technically, the expungement under 1203.4 is not an eraser of one's criminal record. What is really happening is set out in the statute: the plea of guilty or no contest is being withdrawn and a plea of not guilty is being entered, or, if there was a trial, the verdict of guilty is being set aside. In either case, the court is thereafter dismissing the charging document.
As noted in the statute, the probationer is, thereafter, "released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which he or she has been convicted," with certain exceptions
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