A ghost of the past does not have to follow you in the future
When you pled guilty to that petty theft charge just because it was cheaper or more convenient to pay the fines and/or to the community service, you were not thinking of the many doors that the conviction may close on your face in the future. Then, all you were thinking was how you could be done with it and go on with your life. Now, all you think is that you have a record and that it will show up in a background check. Well, do something about it!
Although, not always granted by the judge, and sometimes objected by the prosecutor, an expungement is a relatively simple way to set said your old guilty plea and dismiss the charge. Giving you a fresh start in most cases but not all. I know, bear with me and I will clarify.
For starters, you need to get a copy of your record. Simply go to the court’s criminal window, provide them with your name and your date of birth and ask to receive a printout of your case. The printout will provide you with the following information:
1- The length of your probation’s term.
2- Your compliance with the terms.
3- The date of your conviction.
4- The charges.
5- Any bench warrants???
6- The court’s location.
Once you get the records, you need to fill out the forms. Your forms must be filed with the court that handled your case. You could ask the court’s clerk for the forms. You could also get help from the public defender’s office. Just make sure you use the forms appropriate and designated for and by your court.
If you live in California, you can find the forms in “California Judicial Council Forms” website. Just do a Google search. In addition to these forms, your local court may have some local forms and/or procedure that you may have to follow.
Basically, you would need all or most of these forms:
a- A Petition to Dismiss
b-An Order of Dismissal
c-Proof of Service
d- Fee Waiver
e- Note: A petition to terminate probation and/or reduce a felony to a misdemeanor is often included in the “Petition to Dismiss” form.
In addition to the forms, you also need to attach your affidavit. Your affidavit must state the reasons for which you believe that the judge should grant your petition. MAKE SURE NOT TO WRITE ABOUT YOUR INNOCENCE. The judges don’t want to hear about how innocent you were. They want to hear rehabilitation, remorse, learning from your mistake, and the absence of any other criminal convictions. They also want to hear about why you need to expunge your case. Such as the fact that you no longer want to be a burden on the society and that you are trying to find a better paying job.
In addition to the forms and your affidavit, make sure to attach any other documentary evidence that you want the judge to consider. Some examples would be, but are not limited to:
1- Letters of recommendation.
2- Letters of participation in organizations helping others.
3- Letters of employment rejection because of your criminal record.
4- Letters of rehabilitation.
5- Bank records.
6- Records of receiving public assistance.
7- use your imagination but be careful not to submit too much or to submit something that may incriminate or contradict you.
Before you file the forms and the documents with the court, you need to serve the prosecutor’s office for that court. Serving the prosecutor’s office simply means to drop-off a copy of all the papers at the front desk of the prosecutor’s office and in most cases have your copy conformed by their stamp.
Once you have completed “Service” on the prosecutor, you would fill-up the Proof of Service form. Now you are ready to file everything with the court. Make sure to take extra copies to get them stamped for your records. Also make sure to take a few stamped envelopes, in case the clerk asks for them.
If your fee waiver is not granted, you would have to pay a filing fee. In Los Angeles, currently the fee is $120.00. So don’t take the Fee Waiver form lightly. Fill it up properly and support it with evidence.
After the filing, a court hearing date may be set by the clerk either at the time of the filing or later on by mail.
Make sure to dress appropriately for the court date. No shorts and no tank tops!
Once in court, you may be able to talk to the prosecutor before the judge’s arrival. You need to ask the bailiff for that. Most court employees will be kind and helpful. Let’s hope so. The prosecutor may do any of the following:
Also, the judge may come out of his or her chambers, already decided on your matter. So help you God. No matter what, stay calm, polite and wait for your turn to talk. Often, if you are lucky, you would have nothing to say and the judge will say and do everything for you. Including, granting your Petition for Dismissal! Remember, most cases are won prior to the court hearing. In your case, this means what you file, including your affidavit and the supporting evidence, are of outmost importance.
If your petition is not granted, don’t be disappointed. Not all petitions are granted. Not all convictions are set aside. Not all cases are the same. Every case is different and sometimes circumstances don’t warrant a dismissal.
All this said, it is always better to have an attorney handle your case.
Please note that this article along with all of my other articles, videos and posting, although informational, are not intended as legal advice. For legal advice you need to see an attorney.
Call us for FREE consultation. I will be happy to see you.
Attorney at Law