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Torrance, 12 Convictions (Drugs, DUI) for One Man Expunged

Between 1987 and 2003, our client suffered twelve convictions ranging from felony drug charges to DUI’s to driving on a suspended license.  All the cases were out of the Torrance Superior Court.  The client was living in Redondo Beach at the time and, well, growing up as a young adult (age 21 to age 37) when he learned the legal limits of his conduct.

In 2010, our client, then 44 years old, moved to the East Coast to start a new life.  His record, however, always came up and barred him from meaningful employment.  He had hoped to become a truck driver, but his record prevented him from even beginning truck driving school.
The Gist of This Article:  Client now living on the East Coast had twelve convictions, all eligible for expungement and all out of Torrance Superior Court.  Some of the convictions were for felonies.  Our office files petitions for dismissal on each conviction and the judge assigned to each case grants each petition.
The client then contacted our office and asked us to see if we could expunge each conviction.  Our office then pulled each of the twelve cases by getting the docket reports for each one, some of which we discovered were destroyed.  Some of the docket reports for such cases were simply unavailable, as they had been transferred to microfiche and then lost in the early 1990’s.

After spending a great deal of time researching each of the cases and speaking to the client, our office filed twelve motions for expungement asking the judge to withdraw the pleas and dismiss the complaints. 

It should be noted for the reader that the term motion for expungement is used to describe a petition for dismissal under Penal Code § 1203.4.  The term “expungement” is a word borrowed from other states where a record is actually removed or wiped away, as if a sponge were used to soak it up and clean it up.  In California, this is not what happens.  Expungement, in fact, is not even a term found in the California Penal Code or anywhere else in a California statute, yet we all use the term.

What expungement means in California is that when a petition for dismissal under Penal Code § 1203.4 is granted, the defendant’s plea of no contest or guilty is changed to not guilty and the case is dismissed.

image descriptionTorrance Superior Courthouse

In this case, the Torrance judge handling the twelve motions noted that our client had led a life with no convictions since 2003.  He also acknowledged our client’s employment challenges. 

The prosecution argued that due to the sheer number of convictions, expungement should be denied.  This is a really silly argument because no where, even in the laws of other states, does the number of convictions have any legal relevance toward how a judge should act in each individual case.

Our office then argued that expungement was a simply a right on each of the types of cases at issue if probation was completed and the client faced no new or pending charges.

There is an exception for DUI, as expungement of a DUI is discretionary under 1203.4(c)(2), as DUI is an offense listed under Vehicle Code § 12810.

With the exception of the client’s DUI convictions, expungement of all the other convictions was our client’s right.  The judge really did not have any discretion to exercise for such convictions.  It was only a question of whether the conviction is eligible and whether defendant is qualified, which is determined only by if the defendant successfully completed probation and whether the defendant is currently on probation, in custody or facing other charges.  There is no additional analysis allowed.

The judge then granted each of the twelve petitions.

Our client was overjoyed.  He was now free of the albatross of his convictions.  After all, he could now legally answer “no” to an employment question of whether he had ever been convicted of a crime.  He could now apply to truck driving school as he dreamed.

For more information about the issues in this case summary, click on the following articles:
  1. Is Expungement Worth It?
  2. What Does the New Law in 2015 Concerning Expunged Convictions Mean for State License Applications?
Watch our video about expungement by clicking here.

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