In 1994, our client walked into a Bank of America in the Koreatown district and presented a check from 20th Century Insurance for $3,583, made out to her. Actually, the check, which was fraudulent, was made out to another person with our client’s name, but our client signed her name and presented it to the teller, who then gave our client $3,583.
Two days later, she deposited another check for the same amount, also from 20th Century Insurance, into her account.
Two days later, she withdrew that money in cash. The same day, she went back into the same Bank of America to cash a third check for the same amount from 20th Century.
At this point, the teller recognized our client and thought something might be fraudulent. She took the check from our client and showed it to her manager, who photocopied it and faxed it to 20th Century Insurance. 20th Century Insurance advised that the check was fraudulent. The Bank of America manager then called the Los Angeles Police Department, who came to the bank and arrested our client.
Bail was set at $20,000 for our client. Our client was able to pay a bail bondsman $2,000 to post the bond and our client was released from jail with a promise to appear in the Central Criminal Building (“CCB”) courthouse in a few weeks.
Our client, however, was an immigrant from Guatemala here on a green card. She worried greatly that she would be deported if convicted, so she moved to Minnesota. When our client failed to appear for her arraignment, the judge issued a bench warrant for her with $50,000 bail required.
Twenty-seven years later, in 2021, the client called Greg Hill & Associates to help her take care of the outstanding bench warrant for felony forgery, Penal Code § 470. At the time, the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak and judges were liberal in allowing clients to appear under Penal Code § 977(b)(2) on felony matters though counsel, which the kind judge in CCB, now renamed the Clara Shortridge Foltz courthouse, allowed.
Greg was successful in having the bench warrant recalled and then in paying $7,166 to Bank of America and the prosecutor dismissed the case under Penal Code § 1385 (“in the interest of justice”).
When this took place, the client was happy. Greg told her that, in addition, since the case was dismissed under Penal Code § 1385, our client could ask the judge to seal the court record and the police report, which would help our client in her pending immigration case to become a U.S. citizen.
The client then hired Greg Hill and Associates to file the petition to seal the court file and the police record. As the reader may be aware, this petition, if granted, results in an order from the judge to the Department of Justice in Sacramento, to erase or delete the record of the case from our client’s DOJ record, making it visible only if our client were to apply for a job in law enforcement. Our client, age 51 and still living in Minnesota, had no such interest.
Greg then filed the petition to seal the arrest report and court file in the Clara Shortridge Foltz courthouse. Our office also served it upon the LAPD and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office at the Clara Shortridge Foltz courthouse building.
The judge handling the matter granted the petition, which made our client extremely happy, as a forgery, when a felony as in her case, is certainly an aggravated felony under federal immigration law because it involves a prison sentence of over one year and is a crime involving dishonesty. To avoid the conviction and have the record sealed on this would be a big help for our client, who otherwise had no other criminal history. The client was happy with this outcome.
We offer this summary with a dose of warning to others who hope to replicate this result. Our client in this case was extremely lucky to have the COVID-19 pandemic permit her to appear through counsel under Penal Code § 977(b)(2). This was very unusual. It was even more unusual that the prosecutor agreed to simply dismiss the case after our client paid Bank of America. Therefore, while we would like to take credit for this result as being the product of legal skill, it was not. It was much more a product of luck and the unique timing of this case.
For more information about sealing a record and court records, please click on the following articles: