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Criminal Defense Attorneys

Van Nuys Conviction, Then Case Dismissed (PC 1385), Sealed

The following case has an unusual factual and procedural history.  In a nutshell, our client was actually convicted of violating § 602(j) in 1993, but in 2020, when he petitioned the Van Nuys Superior Court judge assigned to his case for dismissal under Penal Code § 1203.4 (“expungement”), the judge permitted him to withdraw his plea and vacate the sentence.  The judge then dismissed the case under Penal Code § 1385.  

The client, reading the Internet, then asked our office if we could have the arrest record and court filed sealed.  While we expressed skepticism that the judge would grant this because the client was actually convicted of a crime, we agreed to file the petition to seal as long as the client understood the risk of the judge denying the petition.  However, the judge granted the petition.

The case began on December 23, 1992, when the client, then age 25, was caught shoplifting at JCPenney.  He was arrested and charged with violating Penal Code § 484(a) (“petty theft”).  

On February 2, 1993, our client entered into a no contest plea bargain to an amended count two, a charge of violating Penal Code § 602(j) (“trespassing and building fires on lands owned by others”).  A public defender represented the client in negotiating this odd resolution, which suggested our client may be a pyromaniac.  Count one, a charge of violating Penal Code § 484(a), was dismissed.

The terms of the plea bargain were that our client was placed on two years of summary, or informal, probation and required to stay away order from the Van Nuys JCPenney.

In 2020, the client, on his own (“sua sponte”) petitioned the judge in Van Nuys Superior Court under Penal Code § 1203.4 (“expungement”) and the court, sua sponte, noting the odd charge to which the client pled (perhaps unknowingly) kindly invited the client to move to withdraw the plea and (vacate) the sentence.  The client did so and the court withdrew the plea and sentence.  The People then moved to dismiss the case under Penal Code § 1385 (“in the interest of justice”).

The client then called Greg Hill & Associates and asked if we could petition the court to seal the arrest record and court file.  Greg expressed caution because the client had in fact been actually convicted, but the client acknowledged the risk in such a request, so Greg agreed to prepare, file and appear on such a petition to seal under Penal Code §§ 851.91 and 851.92.

The petition explained the unusual factual and procedural history of the case and described how the client had lived a stable, responsible lifestyle since his 1993 conviction in this case.  It explained that he was a chemical engineer by profession and a husband and father of three young children.  It explained that his mother was a widow in India and that our client supported her financially.  

The petition further explained that our client was concerned that his criminal history would one day lead to his being asked to resign from his job, which at his age (55), could be financial disaster for his young family and his mother in India.  

The petition also explained that he wanted to obtain a Global Entry card to help his passage through customs and the airport in his many trips back and forth to India to see his mom.

Our office then filed in the Van Nuys Superior Court and served the petition to the Los Angeles City Attorney in Van Nuys, whose office is across the governmental office plaza from the courthouse.

On the date for the hearing on the petition, Greg appeared for the client.  Greg was worried that the judge would struggle with granting the petition because there had been a conviction in the case.  Greg anticipated that the Los Angeles City Attorney would strongly oppose the petition on such grounds.

However, much to Greg’s surprise, the Los Angeles City Attorney did not oppose the petition for unknown reasons (Greg suspected she had not even read the petition so she was unaware of the case’s unique history) and the judge likewise seemed untroubled by any of the twists and turns in the case.  The judge granted the petition without any comments.

The client was extremely happy with this outcome.

For more information about petitions to seal, please click on the following articles:
Client Reviews
"Thank you so much for putting so much effort in this case. We really appreciate it and we are happy that all turned out well." S.A., Torrance
"Greg Hill did an outstanding job on every level. He was efficient, thorough, knowledgeable, courteous, responsive & brilliant. He welcomed my input and my concerns. . . from the first conversation to the last - I always felt 'it mattered' to him." S.C., Rolling Hills Estates
"Thanks again for your hard work. We want you to know that we are very appreciative of all that you have done [on our son's] behalf. With warmest regards." L.H., Torrance
"Dear Greg, Thank you again for all your help. Your professionalism and thoroughness is greatly admired. I will definitely recommend you to my friends if they ever need legal help." V.L., Carson
"Thanks for investing in my case. I talked to other attorneys out there and they had an arms-length of attitude, but not you. Your intensity and interest helped a lot." C.R., Pomona