You can request expungement of previous criminal charges for several reasons. You may not have challenged a conviction in the past, but had no idea how damaging a criminal record would be to your profession and/or image in the future. Or perhaps you contested the charge but were found guilty, and now you want to take advantage of California's comparatively liberal expungement statute to avoid any unnecessary barriers in your career (e.g. declination of licenses, failing background checks, to name a few.)

It's essential to note that expungement doesn't imply that you're asking a court to declare you're not guilty of an offense, which is a difficult task, but rather that you're asking the court to clear your criminal history in compliance with California's law, which is a lot easier. Nonetheless, the result is the same: expunging your records will make it appear as if you were never charged with any offense. Despite it all, extra steps could be necessary to erase third-party records. This blog covers the types of criminal charges that can be expunged.

Expungement of Infractions

Infractions often termed as violations are minor transgressions such as traffic tickets or some drug offenses. Petty offenders are often exempted from serving time in prison, based on the scenario of each incident. Such offenders frequently get away with only paying fines and doing community service.

Even minor transgressions can have a lasting impact on an individual's image for as long as they are recorded. As a result, they should be erased from records so that they don't show up in the offender's background checks. California Penal Code provides for the expungement of the following offenses:

Petty Theft

Petty theft is defined in California state law under two Penal Code provisions, PC 484 and PC 488. According to California PC Section 484/488, petty theft is defined as a crime that involves the offender taking someone else 's property without their permission. The offender must intend to seize the property permanently or for some time long enough to deprive the owner of a significant amount of its worth or pleasure.

Finally, the accused should relocate the property and maintain it for any length of time, no matter how brief. The property's total worth (including services) should not exceed $950. This type of petty theft is usually referred to as larceny.

Depending on the financial value of the item or property, several types of theft could be punished as petty theft. The following are examples of theft:

  • Theft through deception, such as intentionally destroying something in a retail store so that you could pay less for it

  • Embezzlement is defined as taking something that's been assigned to you and denying the owner considerable use of the item

  • Theft by deception or pretense, that is, getting someone's permission to take their property through fabrication or lies

Marijuana Possession

California's legalization of marijuana doesn't guarantee that you'd never be prosecuted for carrying conentrated cannabis or marijuana under state law. This civil offense falls under California's Health and Safety Code 11357 HS which forbids illegal marijuana possession. As per California's possession of marijuana legislation, HS Code 11357 HS, nevertheless makes it illegal to:

  • Have marijuana exceeding 28.5 grams (about one ounce) and/or possessing concentrated cannabis exceeding eight grams

  • Possess concentrated cannabis or marijuana if you're below 21 years of age unless you're following California's medicinal marijuana rules

  • Possess marijuana on K-12 school grounds while schools are in session

California Criminal Trespass

California's criminal trespass statute is outlined in PC 602. This is described as an offender entering or residing on another person's property without their permission or consent. The following are some of the most frequent California trespassing offenses:

  • The offender trespassed on the victim's property to cause damage to it

  • A defendant entering somebody else's property to interfere with or obstruct their business operations

  • An offender trespassing and "occupying" a complainant's property without authorization, as well as declining to vacate the private property after being instructed to

Disturbing the Peace

The offense of "disturbing the peace," also referred to as police code 415, is defined by California Legislation as using certain derogatory language or fighting phrases, playing extremely loud music, or engaging in a brawl with someone. Charges of disturbing the peace could be prosecuted as a noncriminal offense or a misdemeanor.

Illegal Alcohol Purchase By Underage Persons

Selling or furnishing alcohol to minors is a misdemeanor in California. Minors under the age of 21 are likewise prohibited from buying or drinking alcohol on the grounds of a restaurant, bar, or store. The selling of alcoholic beverages or drinks is governed under California's Business and Professions Code 25658. It's a crime under this statute to:

  • Furnish (i.e, provide, sell or give) — or cause to be given away, sold or furnished — any alcoholic drink to an individual under 21 years of age

  • Being someone under 21 and either:

  • Drinking an alcoholic beverage (underage drinking) on grounds where alcohol is sold and/or

  • Purchasing alcohol (underage drinking) on grounds where the alcoholic beverage is sold

  • being an on-sale license holder and allowing an individual who is underage to drink any alcoholic drink on the grounds, even if the permittee doesn’t have actual awareness that the person is under the age of 21

Failure to Appear

Failure to appear in court (FTA) is a criminal offense that involves willfully failing to report at a mandatory court date. An FTA warrant, bond issues, fines, and extra criminal charges could result as a result of this.

Conditions for Expungement of Infractions

These offenses can be erased if the following requirements are met:

  • A year has passed since the sentencing

  • All fines, fees, and reparations must be paid

  • There are no new allegations on the books

  • The infraction has nothing to do with a vehicle

Expungement of Misdemeanor Sentences

Misdemeanors are criminal offenses that carry a 1-year prison sentence as well as penalties. The following misdemeanors are eligible for expungement under the California Penal Code:

Domestic Battery Under PC 243(e) (1)

Domestic battery is described as a misdemeanor involving the use of violence or force against a spouse or ex-partner, fiancé, dating partner, or another parent of the offender's child under Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC. However, an offender can be found guilty of the crime even if he or she did not cause the purported victim any pain or injury. All that's needed is the application of "force" or "violence" to the victim.


California shoplifting statutes, PC 459.5 PC, classify shoplifting as a misdemeanor offense. Shoplifting is described as accessing a commercial institution while it's open during normal work hours to steal products with a value not exceeding $950.

Public Intoxication

The California statute that deems public intoxication a misdemeanor is PC 647f PC. This is also known as "drunk in public," and it occurs when an offender is under the influence of alcohol or drugs in a public area and he or she is unable to care for their own or others' safety.

Receiving Stolen Property

Most theft crimes are centered on the individual who steals or takes another individual's property. The California statute Penal Code 496 PC makes it illegal for someone to knowingly acquire stolen property. This crime is defined as:

  • The defendant purchasing, receiving, selling, helping in the sale of, concealing, or withholding property that was stolen from another person

  • Being aware that the goods in question had been stolen or gained via extortion

Disorderly Conduct

The California legislation that makes "disorderly conduct" an offense is PC 647. An offender is guilty of disorderly conduct if he or she does any of the following, as per PC 647:

  • Solicits or participates in prostitution

  • Publically solicits or begs for money or food

  • The offender is under the influence of alcohol or drugs in public

  • Trespassing or lingering on private land without the owner's consent or justification

  • Encroaching another's privacy by "peeping" or recording them – for example, in a changing room – to assess their sexual arousal

Probation Violations

A probation violation happens when a person is found guilty of an offense, sentenced to probation, and then defies a specified term or provision of that probation. California PC 1203.2 is the law that governs probation and its infractions in criminal proceedings.

Solicitation and Prostitution

Engaging in (or soliciting) prostitution is illegal in California. This refers to engaging in sexual activity or engaging in vulgar conduct in exchange for a monetary reward. It's illegal under California Penal Code 647b PC to:

  • Engage in prostitution

  • Request for prostitution

  • Agree to engage in prostitution

"Prostitution" refers to any activity in which a person engages in sexual activity or engages in indecent conduct with another individual in return for money or another recompense.

A "lewd act/conduct" is defined as touching the buttocks, female breast, or genitals of either a prostitute or the client with a part of another individual's body for the aim of sexual stimulation or sexual enjoyment.

Assault and Battery Under PC 240 and 242

Assault is stated under California PC 240 PC as "the unlawful effort, paired with a present willingness, to inflict a violent harm on the victim of another."

Battery, on the other hand, is defined as per California PC 242 as "any purposeful and illegal use of violence or force onto the victim of another." Even though the victim is not injured or in pain, the violation can still be charged. All that's needed is an offensive touch on the victim.

Reckless Driving

The crime of reckless driving is defined by California VC 23103 as a defendant operating a vehicle with an intentional or wanton ignorance for the public's safety or safety of the property.

Indecent Exposure

Indecent exposure is described in California PC 314 as deliberately exposing one's nude body or private parts before somebody or individuals who would be outraged or offended by your acts, and that you meant to focus the attention of the public to your private parts for the intention of either sexually pleasing yourself or somebody else, or sexually upsetting somebody else.

onditions for Expungement of a Misdemeanor

The aforementioned misdemeanor crimes can be expunged if the following requirements are met:

  • The trial was held in a state court

  • The probationary period was completed successfully

  • One year has passed since the sentence in the absence of a probation

  • All fines and fees must be paid

  • There are no open allegations on file

It should be noted that federal sentences do not qualify for expungement.

Expungement of Felony Sentences

Felonies are considered the most dangerous of offenses. Felonies include actions that cause substantial physical harm to victims as well as white-collar offenses involving large sums of money. Based on the nature of each crime, a felony usually carries a term of more than 1 year in prison and often in county jail.

California law is very strict when it comes to felony expungements. A felony is only purged if the prison term was spent in county jail. Although expungement is not an option for those convicted, they can obtain a Gubernatorial pardon or a rehabilitation certificate.

Defendants convicted of felony crimes have the choice of appealing the court to have their felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor. Following that, the defendant has the option to seek expungement. However, the charge reduction doesn't apply to crimes that result in death or sexual assaults. Generally, most sentences can be erased except for the following:

  • Crimes involving child pornography

  • Certain types of sexual assault crimes, particularly those involving minors

  • Offenses involving lewd conduct with an underage or minor

  • Failure to comply with a vehicle inspection by the police

Find a Competent Expungement Attorney Near Me

Clearing your criminal records can be difficult, and the legislation is subject to change at any time. Fortunately, if you're in Los Angeles, our professionals at Record Expungement Attorney are familiar with the state's criminal laws and the defenses that can be used in each instance. A good expungement attorney can assist you with all aspects of the expungement process, including examining the specifics of your offense, evaluating your eligibility, and filing for expungement. Call us right now at 424-286-1516 to discuss your options.