Our client, age 28, was arrested by the El Segundo Police Department after he allegedly became upset with his girlfriend, pushing her up against a wall and choking her for about 30 seconds. The girlfriend stated to the police that she could not breathe and was about to pass out. She then had a sore neck for about three days.
In a Nutshell: Client on informal, or summary, probation for misdemeanor domestic violence (Penal Code § 243(e)(1)) out of the Airport Courthouse. He was in a master’s program and about to graduate, but had to go overseas to do fieldwork as a final requirement. However, he was not permitted to go overseas while on probation, so our office sought early termination of probation and then expungement of the conviction.
Our client explained that he and his girlfriend had argued and his girlfriend had taken his glasses and thrown them in the toilet to anger him. Instead of fighting, he got his glasses and left the house, which angered his girlfriend even more and led to her calling the police to falsely report him strangling her.
The girlfriend showed areas of red skin around her neck and cried profusely when speaking with the police, so our client was arrested on charges of felony domestic violence (Penal Code § 273.5). He posted the $50,000 bail that was set and called Greg Hill & Associates.
Greg spoke with the client and explained how he expected the case to be charged as a misdemeanor, although it was possible that the case could remain a felony as arrested, depending upon the photographs of the alleged injuries and how credible his girlfriend was to the police. Greg explained that since the client had no prior history and his girlfriend had a prior conviction for a crime involving dishonesty (identity theft), the client might be found more credible.
The client was an archaeology student at UCLA, studying for his master’s degree.
The arraignment came and the client indeed was charged with a misdemeanor, a violation of Penal Code § 243(e)(1), battery upon a co-habitant or spouse. The case eventually resolved in a plea bargain wherein our client agreed to no jail, but three years of summary probation on the following terms and conditions: 1) that he enroll in and attend 52 batterer’s program classes; 2) that he make a $500 donation to a domestic violence victims fund; 3) that he pay a $250 court fee; and 4) that he stay away from his former girlfriend.
Our client quickly paid the court fees and made the domestic violence victims fund donation. He then finished the 52 batterer’s program classes.
The half-way mark in his probation arrived and Greg contacted him about whether he was interested in early termination of probation and then expungement. The client said he was, explaining that he had transferred to UC Santa Cruz and was just about to graduate with a master’s degree, but could not go on any overseas fieldwork if on probation. He very much needed to have his probation ended early so he could earn a living.
Greg Hill & Associates prepared the motion for modification of probation and filed it with the Airport Courthouse District Attorney’s office. The hearing came up and the District Attorney’s office opposed the motion, arguing that a plea bargain is a contract and the client agreed to a full three years of summary probation when he accepted the terms. The People further argued that if our client voluntarily studied in a field that required overseas travel, he should not have accepted the terms of the plea bargain and should have instead opted to convert his probation to county jail to avoid a three-year period.
The judge viewed the People’s argument as ridiculous and granted the motion, noting that our client had no prior criminal history, so there was no reason to think he would violate probation otherwise.
Greg Hill & Associates then filed the petition for dismissal (expungement), which was also granted by the judge.
The client was relieved and happy he could travel overseas to fulfill his dreams of working as an archaeologist.
For more information about modification of probation and expungement, please click on the following articles:
- Early Termination of Probation – What Does a Judge Consider?
- Is Expungement Worth It?
- Trial Court That Denied Expungement Because Petitioner Given a Five Year Joint Suspended Sentence Is Reversed on Appeal