An expungement can allow someone who was convicted of a crime in California to honestly say that they have never been convicted the crime in most instances.* Once a person has fulfilled all conditions of their probation, or was released before the end of their probation, they are entitled to have their conviction expunged and accusation discharged assuming they are not serving a sentence, charged, or on probation for another offense (P.C. 1203.4). Originally, if a person meets these requirements, their petition for expungement must be granted (People v. Hawley (1991) 228 Cal.App.3d 247, 250). However, effective January 1, 2009, P.C. 1203.4 was amended. Under this amendment, expungements for certain offenses were made discretionary. This applies to DUI convictions, leaving the scene of a crime, reckless driving, and any other offense under CVC 1281 (a) to (e), and those who violated probation.
Regardless of whether a person is also convicted of an offense that cannot be expunged, eligible offenses can still be expunged (People v. Mgebrov (2008) __Cal.App.4th__ (First Dist. COP, Div. Two – Docket No. A118081)).
If a person was not granted probation, they can still be eligible to have their conviction expunged. “Any time after the lapse of one year from the date of the pronouncement of the judgment,” if they “fully complied with and performed the sentence to the court, is not serving a sentence for any offense, and is not under charge of commission of any crime and has, since the pronouncement of judgment, lived an honest and upright life and has conformed to and obeyed the laws of the land,” a person can apply to have his conviction erased and accusation dismissed (P.C. 1203.4(a)).
Probation fees cannot be a required condition for probation, and thus, failure to pay these cannot exclude someone from being considered for expungement (People v. Bradus (2007) 149 Cal.App.4th 636).
Expunged convictions can be used in any subsequent prosecution and sentence enhancement of the defendant. CVC 1803.3 requires the DMV to remove a conviction from records after the dismissal of charges under 1203.4 or 1203.4a. However, this is in direct conflict with the penal code, and since the penal code is more specific, it takes appears to take precedent. However this section does not discuss the suspending or revoking a person’s license. This is discussed in CVC 13555 which states prior convictions will still be considered in cases to suspend or revoke a person’s driver’s license. This means that a person whose case was expunged can still have those charges used against them by the DMV (CVC 13100 through 13559) (Ellis v. DMV (1942) 51 Cal.App.2d 753, 125 P2d 521).
*If granted an expungement, the defendant must still disclose all prior convictions and is not able to answer “no” if asked if they have been convicted in three instances: running for public office, contracting with the California State lottery, and when applying for a state license.