In 2007, our client was arrested after driving to a location to meet with a person he believed was thirteen years old. Our client was 29 years old. Our client had interacted with this person, or someone pretending to be such a person, online and the attraction of our client to her was sexual.
Our client had been in an online chat room communicating with a decoy operating for a group called Perverted Justice, who then coordinated with the Riverside Sheriff’s Department to arrest our client. According to the police report, our client had asked the teenager if she wanted to “go all the way” and if she like to drink alcohol.
After our client was arrested, he retained private counsel in Riverside who worked hard on the case and resolved it for attempted lewd acts with a minor, Penal Code §§ 664-288(a). The client was placed on five years of formal probation with an obligation to attend sexual compulsiveness counseling for a year, pay court fines totaling $3,916, restitution of $800, a booking fee of $387 and was required to register for life under Penal Code § 290.
The client completed his probation in Los Angeles County in 2014 after his probation was transferred from Riverside County to Los Angeles County.
In 2021, the client contacted Greg Hill & Associates about expunging the conviction. Greg explained that under People v. Marinelli (2014) 225 Cal. App. 4th 1 and, a Fourth Appellate District Court case, People v. Lewis (2006) 146 Cal. App. 4th 294, at 298, this was possible because it was an attempted lewd act, not a completed lewd act. In other words, the traditional ban on expungement for a sex offense did not apply because an attempt was distinguishable from a completed act.
The client was quite happy to hear this, as he had otherwise resigned himself to a life of being always stigmatized by such a conviction.
Greg commented that expungement did not act to end his lifetime sex offender registration obligation (perhaps now modified by Senate Bill 384, effective July 1, 2021) or erase the fact that the 288(a) case was once filed in court against him, ultimately resolved for 664-288(a).
Nonetheless, expungement would permit the client to legally answer “no” on an employment questionnaire asking if he had ever been convicted of any crime, as our client had no other convictions.
The client was now age 44 and living in Apple Valley with his wife and young son. The client worked in an Amazon warehouse as a packager. He explained that he eagerly wanted to travel back to Thailand to visit his family there and he could not with such a conviction on his record, but with expungement, this would be possible. Greg commented that since immigration laws can and do often change, it would be prudent to check with an immigration attorney before he paid any money to make such a trip.
The client then retained Greg Hill & Associates to prepare, serve and file the petition for expungement of his conviction for attempted lewd acts with a minor. Our office prepared not only the judicial council form for dismissal under Penal Code § 1203.4(a) (“Expungement”), but also attached a supplemental memorandum of points and authorities to explain the Marinelli and Lewis cases. The supplemental memorandum also included a declaration from our client explaining his need for expungement and attaching photographs of him with his wife and son.
Our office filed and served the motion in the Norwalk Superior Court.
A hearing date was then set and Greg appeared for the hearing. The People had not opposed the petition at all in writing, but at the hearing, the judge asked to continue the hearing to get a report from the probation department to verify from it that our client successfully completed all terms of probation. Consequently, the hearing was continued for four weeks to get the report from the probation department.
Four weeks later, the hearing reconvened. The probation department reported that our client had successfully completed probation, but the probation department recommended that the judge deny the petition for dismissal (expungement) “because sex offenses are ineligible for such relief.”
The judge then read the probation department and stated she would deny the petition. Greg argued that the probation department’s recommendation was based on an incorrect understanding of the law on attempted sex offenses and cited to the Marinelli and Lewis cases.
The judge then placed the matter on a brief second call so she could read the Marinelli and Lewis cases, which she did. She then reversed her tentative ruling to deny the petition and granted the client’s expungement.
Our client was happy with this result.
For more information about expungement involving sex offenses or attempted sex offenses, please click on the following articles: