Once a driving under the influence defendant pleads guilty or is convicted after a jury trial, their criminal record will reflect this indefinitely. Since criminal records are public records, they can be easily searched and found by law enforcement agencies, employers, and state licensing agencies. Most probationers want to get their criminal record cleaned up as soon as possible so their record does not hinder them.
A standard DUI sentence includes a term of probation. Under California law, Penal Code Section 1203.4, a person is eligible for an expungement “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.” There are a few exceptions to this rule where an expungement is not available. Examples of this are when the person served time in prison for this offense or the offense was a sex crime.
Most drunk driving cases are eligible for expungement.
Successful completion of probation is when the probationer paid all the fines and fees related to their case, attended all court ordered programs and community service, appeared at each court hearing or had their attorney appear on their behalf, had not picked up any new violations, and did not violate any of the terms of probation.
At the natural termination of probation, if the probationer is not serving a sentence for any offenses, is not on probation for any other matters, or currently charged with another crime, he or she can petition the court for an expungement.
If however, the term of probation has yet to expire, the probationer can still petition the court for an early termination of probation. The court has complete discretion to decide if early termination will be granted. The court often looks at several factors in making their decision including the seriousness of the underlying conviction, criminal history, and community ties. If the motion for early termination of probation is granted, the probationer than can petition the court for an expungement.
If probation was not successfully completed, the probationer can still ask the court for an expungement; however, the judge has discretion to grant or deny the request. If an expungement is granted, the person is permitted to withdraw the guilty plea or plea of nolo contendere and enter a plea of not guilty. If convicted, the court will set aside the conviction. The court will then dismiss the case and the person is then “released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense” with some exceptions.
A skilled drunk driving defense attorney, Susan L. Hartman, can assist you in filing the necessary motions to terminate your probation early and get your matter expunged.
For your free, initial consultation and to speak to Susan L. Hartman directly about your individual situation, call 619-260-1122 or use the “Contact Us” page on our website. We are an accessible, aggressive, exclusively DUI firm and we handle all aspects of drunk driving cases including the DMV hearing, the court process, and the post plea/conviction issues such as early termination of probation and expungement.
The above blog article is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may change and may not apply to your case. For the latest information or to get legal advice, speak to a DUI attorney in your area. (Original blog article published May 11, 2012.)