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Assembly Bill (AB) 2147 Expungement, Fire Camp, Prison

In 2005, our client, then 23 years old, was arrested by the Long Beach Police Department for allegedly violating Penal Code § 191.5(a) (gross vehicular homicide while intoxicated), as well as Vehicle Code §§ 23153(a) (driving under the influence and causing injury to another), 23153(b) (driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher and causing injury to another) and 20001(a) (felony hit and run with injury).  

A conviction for a violation of Penal Code § 191.5(a) carries with it a sentence of 4, 6 or 10 years in state prison.  A conviction for felony hit and run with injury carries with it a sentence of 2, 3 or 4 years in state prison.  Felony DUI with injuries carries a sentence of 2, 3 or 4 years in state prison.

In 2006, our client entered a plea to a violation of Penal Code § 192(c) and was sentenced to eleven years in state prison.

He then was assigned to and successfully participated in the California Conservation Camp program as an incarcerated individual hand crew member from 2012 to 2014.

Our client was released from state prison in 2014.  After he left prison, he applied to be a park ranger in Orange County and was rejected due to this conviction.

Our client, age 40 in 2022, worked as a hydrogen operator within the refinery industry.  His goal was to become a firefighter and use the skills he learned in prison while assigned to fire camp.  He had been in the refinery profession for four years, however, with his conviction on his record, it was difficult to find other (and better) job opportunities.

Most importantly, our client wanted to find safer employment.  While it may seem counterintuitive, fighting fires as a fireman is safer than working at the refinery, where he worked, because in his current job, he was frequently exposed to hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, hydrous ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, benzyne and methane, all of which have documented cancer-causing properties.

Effective January 1, 2021, Assembly Bill (AB) 2147 created a new code section, California Penal Code § 1203.4b.  It  provides that “If a defendant successfully participated in the California Conservation Camp program as an incarcerated individual hand crew member, . . . and has been released from custody, the defendant is eligible for relief pursuant to this section.”

In 2022, the client called Greg Hill & Associates and asked about AB 2147.  Greg explained that in his experience, judges were very strict on applying the new law and demanded reliable documentation that the person seeking such relief truly was assigned to a fire crew and fought fires, as compared to being assigned to fire camp as a cook, a supply worker or a driver.

The client explained he had fought many fires and even showed Greg some photographs of him in action, which the client really was not supposed to take or have.

He then retained Greg Hill & Associates and our office prepared, filed and served the petition for dismissal under Penal Code § 1203.4b (AB 2147).  The petition explained the background facts of our client’s conviction in the Long Beach Superior Court sixteen years later and his being sentenced to state prison.

The motion then explained that our client was the “poster child” for when “prison works” insofar as he now donated is time as a mentor and a sponsor at Alcoholics Anonymous.  He even spoke regularly at Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which ironically attended his sentencing hearing in person to perhaps remind the court (and our client) of the serious nature of this charge.

We also explained that our client interned at Fred Brown Recovery Centers to help others overcome drug addiction issues.  Moreover, our client had not had a drink of alcohol since the car accident in this case.  In addition, our client earned two Associates of Arts degrees (in psychology and information technology) since leaving prison and was currently working toward his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology.

The judge in the Long Beach Superior Court granted the petition.  The client was extremely happy with this.

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