In 2006, when our client was just 18, she was arrested and later convicted of her third violation of Penal Code § 484(a). This particular conviction arose after she was arrested at JCPenney in Newhall when she attempted to steal some women’s clothing for herself.
While on probation for the conviction out of the Santa Clarita courthouse, also called the Valencia Courthouse, our client was convicted of her fourth shoplifting violation, which in 2007 was a felony under Penal Code § 666. It merits mention that with the passage of Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act in November 2014, a fourth-time shoplifting is now a misdemeanor and not a felony.
When the client was convicted of a felony violation of § 666 in 2007, the judge overseeing the client’s probation in Santa Clarita revoked our client’s probation. However, probation was reinstated about two months later and the client successfully completed probation in 2009.
Fast forward to 2019 and our client had moved to Istanbul, Turkey, where she worked as a kindergarten teacher for the prior four years. She then took a vacation back to the United States and went to the Santa Clarita Courthouse to seek expungement of her conviction.
The client filled out the paperwork and requested a hearing on her petition the same day. The judge denied the petition, finding there was “a lack of good cause,” which we believe was incorrect because if the client was reinstated on probation, as she was, and then successfully completed probation, she was entitled to relief under Penal Code § 1203.4 (“expungement”). The judge does not have to find “good cause” to grant relief.
In 2021, while the client was back in Istanbul, she reached out to Greg Hill & Associates to file expungement petitions in her four shoplifting cases. As to the Santa Clarita case, Greg retrieved the docket in the case and discussed the judge’s mistaken ruling in 2019 and how he could file the petition again and, despite there being no requirement of good cause, the client could submit a few letters of support for her to establish “good cause” nonetheless.
The client explained that she hoped to return to the United States with her husband and work as an early childhood education counselor at a school district, but with all her convictions, she believed she would not be offered any job in her intended field of employment.
Greg further explained the refiled petition for dismissal for the client would include a declaration from her explaining that her employment plans.
Greg then clarified to the client that expungement would not delete or erase the record of the case being filed, but it would change the last disposition of the case to dismissed and her last plea would be returned to “not guilty.” She would also be legally permitted to answer “no” to any employment question asking if she had been convicted insofar as this conviction.
However, if she were to one day seek a teaching certification from the State of California, she would be obligated to disclose this conviction and not state that it did not exists.
The client responded that she understood and wished to move forward with retaining us to prepare, file, serve and then appear on the petition for dismissal for her.
Greg Hill & Associates then prepared, filed, served and appeared in the Santa Clarita Courthouse on the client’s petition for dismissal. The petition included a supplemental memorandum with a declaration from our client attaching two letters of support for the client, explaining that they had observed our client and considered her dependable, truthful, trustworthy, a hard worker and ambitious. Our office included such letters and the client’s declaration not to establish “good cause” that the court believed was lacking, but to persuade the judge that granting the petition was simply the right thing to do.
The judge in Santa Clarita then called the matter for a hearing. The deputy district attorney assigned to the matter did not oppose the petition and the judge granted the petition, which made the client quite pleased.
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