California Penal Code 1203.4a PC allows defendants convicted of either infractions or misdemeanors without probation to petition the court to dismiss and expunge their case.
Before the defendant can apply for a dismissal and expungement, a full year must have passed since the conviction.
The entire text of the law reads:
1203.4a. (a) Every defendant convicted of a misdemeanor and not granted probation, and every defendant convicted of an infraction shall, at any time after the lapse of one year from the date of pronouncement of judgment, if they have fully complied with and performed the sentence of the court, is not then 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, be permitted by the court to withdraw their plea of guilty or nolo contendere and enter a plea of not guilty; or if they have been convicted after a plea of not guilty, the court shall set aside the verdict of guilty; and in either case the court shall thereupon dismiss the accusatory pleading against the defendant, who shall thereafter be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which they have been convicted, except as provided in Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 29900) of Division 9 of Title 4 of Part 6 of this code or Section 13555 of the Vehicle Code.
(b) If a defendant does not satisfy all the requirements of subdivision (a), after a lapse of one year from the date of pronouncement of judgment, a court, in its discretion and in the interests of justice, may grant the relief available pursuant to subdivision (a) to a defendant convicted of an infraction, or of a misdemeanor and not granted probation, or both, if they have fully complied with and performed the sentence of the court, is not then serving a sentence for any offense, and is not under charge of commission of any crime.
(c)(1) The defendant shall be informed of the provisions of this section, either orally or in writing, at the time they are sentenced. The defendant may make an application and change of plea in person or by attorney, or by the probation officer authorized in writing, provided that, in any subsequent prosecution of the defendant for any other offense, the prior conviction may be pleaded and proved and shall have the same effect as if relief had not been granted pursuant to this section.
(2) Dismissal of an accusatory pleading pursuant to this section does not permit a person to own, possess, or have in their custody or control any firearm or prevent their conviction under Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 29800) of Division 9 of Title 4 of Part 6.
(3) Dismissal of an accusatory pleading underlying a conviction pursuant to this section does not permit a person prohibited from holding public office as a result of that conviction to hold public office.
(4) Dismissal of an accusation or information pursuant to this section does not release the defendant from the terms and conditions of any unexpired criminal protective order that has been issued by the court pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (i) of Section 136.2, subdivision (j) of Section 273.5, subdivision (l) of Section 368, or subdivision (k) of Section 646.9. These protective orders shall remain in full effect until expiration or until any further order by the court modifying or terminating the order, despite the dismissal of the underlying accusation or information.
(d) This section applies to any conviction specified in subdivision (a) or (b) that occurred before, as well as those occurring after, the effective date of this section, except that this section does not apply to the following:
(1) A misdemeanor violation of subdivision (c) of Section 288.
(2) Any misdemeanor falling within the provisions of Section 42002.1 of the Vehicle Code.
(3) Any infraction falling within the provisions of Section 42001 of the Vehicle Code.
(e) A petition for dismissal of an infraction pursuant to this section shall be by written declaration, except upon a showing of compelling need. Dismissal of an infraction shall not be granted under this section unless the prosecuting attorney has been given at least 15 days’ notice of the petition for dismissal. It shall be presumed that the prosecuting attorney has received notice if proof of service is filed with the court.
(f) Any determination of amount made by a court under this section shall be valid only if either (1) made under procedures adopted by the Judicial Council or (2) approved by the Judicial Council.
(g) This section shall become operative on January 1, 2022.
California Penal Code 1203.4a PC permits defendants to have the following convictions expunged from their record once one year has elapsed since the conviction:
- infractions; and
- misdemeanors with no probation (“terminal disposition”).
Once the defendant applies for the expungement, the court must comply as long as the defendant:
- fully performed the sentence (such as paying any fines);
- is not serving a sentence for any other offense;
- is not being charged with any other crime; and
- has been living an honest, upright, and law-abiding life since the conviction.
If the defendant has not been fully compliant, the court has discretion to dismiss the conviction and grant the expungement anyway.
Anyone who is eligible for an expungement is advised to pursue one. Having a clean criminal record greatly increases your chances of getting:
- housing, and
- professional licenses.1
Note that people who have been convicted of a felony or of a misdemeanor with probation may be eligible for expungement through PC 1203.4. Alternatively, it may be possible to get a felony conviction reduced through PC 17(b).
- California Penal Code 1203.4a PC – Change of plea and dismissal of charges against nonprobationed misdemeanant or defendant who has committed infraction after performance of sentence; Release from penalties and disabilities; Subsequent offenses; Applicability; Petition by written declaration. See, for example: People v. Maya (Cal., 2020) 9 Cal. 5th 239; People v. Sanders (Cal., 2012) 55 Cal. 4th 731.