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Second-Chance Expungement Relief Now For Former Felons Who Went to Prison

“Redemption and rehabilitation are possible only when we as Americans make sure that people in prisons are inspired by what they can do and not reminded by what they can’t do,” said Common, Grammy-award-winning hip-hop artist at a pro-justice concert at the State Capitol in the summer.

The underlining messages of the concert leant support to Assembly Bill No. 1115,[1] which expands expungement relief—and the chance for a second chance—for certain felons who served time in prison. Previously, the law had limited this relief to ex-felons who had gone to county jail. Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law in September.

Specifically, the new law adds section 1203.42 to the Penal Code to allow individuals who were (1) sentenced before the 2011 Realignment Legislation[2]; (2) for a felony which could have been served in county jail instead of in prison[3] (you were sent to prison); and (3) at least 2 years have passed since you completed your sentence the chance to petition the court to withdraw your plea of guilty or no contest, remove your guilty conviction by a jury, and have the accusation or information dismissed against you. As the new penal code states, “[H]e or she shall thereafter be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense . . . .”[4]

The new relief; however, does not apply to individuals who were convicted of felonies that are serious,[5] violent, [6] or involve registration as a sex offender.

The primary aim of expungement is to help individuals who have successfully completed their sentences find gainful employment and the chance to move on with their lives.

· The benefits of expungement include:

· Employers and potential employers will not be able to see your criminal record

· You may be able to secure or keep your vocational or professional license

· People you do business with will not be able to see your criminal record

If the judge grants expungement, you do not need to disclose the conviction which was expunged, nor will it be available to view. However, the “expunged” record can be used in any new prosecution against you. You must also disclose your conviction if directly asked in a questionnaire or application for public office, licensure by any state or local agency, and when contracting with the State Lottery Commission.[7]

If you are interested in expungement, you cannot be currently charged with a crime, serving probation, or serving a sentence for a crime to qualify.

The expungement petition process typically takes about 2 to 4 months, depending on the court and the facts of your case.

If you are interested in seeking this second-chance relief, please contact our experienced attorneys at Coimbra Law Firm, APC. You can reach us at (626) 205-3794.


[1] Assembly member Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr., Bill Allows for Realignment Expungements Heads to Governor Jerry Brown, Aug. 22, 2017, available at https://a59.asmdc.org/press-releases/bill-allows-realignment-expungements-heads-governor-jerry-brown

[2] This legislation, AB 109 – the 2011 Public Safety Realignment – became effective on October 1, 2011. The law mandated that individuals sentenced to non-serious, non-violent or non-sex offenses were to serve their sentences in county jails instead of state prison. The law was prospective, meaning that it did not apply to convicts previously sentenced who would otherwise qualify under the new law. See Cal. Dep’t of Corrections and Rehabilitation, An Overview of AB 109, the 2011 Public Safety Realignment, available at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/realignment/

[3] The new law is very specific here. The law applies to crimes which could have been served in county jail pursuant to Penal Code § 1170(h). This code applies to felonies in which the term is not specified in the underlining offense and are punishable by a term of imprisonment in county jail for 16 months, or 2 or 3 years. Penal Code § 1170 (h)(1). Serious felonies, violent felonies, or offenses which require registration as a § 290 registrant are served in state prison. Penal Code § 1170 (h)(3).

[4] Penal Code § 1203.42(a)(1). This does not apply to individuals with revoked or suspended drivers licenses, per Vehicle Code § 1355.

[5] Penal Code § 1192.7(c) lists serious felonies

[6] Penal Code § 667.5 (c) lists violent felonies

[7] Penal Code § 1203.42(b)(2)