Depending on the circumstances of the case it may be possible to have a domestic violence misdemeanor expunged from your record. In California a domestic violence allegation can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. An offense that can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor is referred to as a “wobbler.”
Misdemeanors are typically punishable by fines and up to one year in jail. Felonies, like misdemeanors, are also punishable by fines but can also result in lengthy prison sentences. An offense that is a wobbler can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the incident. If you were charged with a misdemeanor domestic violence allegation, it may be possible to have the charge expunged from your record pursuant to Penal Code section 1203.4.
Having a conviction expunged means that your case will be dismissed and a previously entered plea of guilty or no contest will be removed, with a new plea of not guilty being entered in its place. Expungement certainly has its benefits, especially to those seeking employment, housing, or educational opportunities.
We highly recommend contacting a criminal attorney experienced in domestic violence law to discuss the details of your case.
Expungement of California domestic violence convictions
If you have been convicted of a domestic violence offense whether it was a misdemeanor, or a felony without prison time, you may be entitled to an expungement. It is important to understand that expungement is only possible in felony cases where prison time was not imposed at sentencing. If, as part of your conviction, you were granted probation you may be entitled to withdraw a plea of “guilty” or “no contest” and enter a plea of “not guilty”. It may also be possible to have a guilty verdict set aside if you were convicted following a criminal trial.
The court must dismiss the charge of domestic violence if your probation was terminated early or if all probation terms were fulfilled and you are not serving a sentence for any other criminal offense, charged with any other criminal offense, or on probation for any other criminal offense. A probation violation will likely prohibit you from receiving an expungement. In this instance, it is up to the court to decide.
Do I have to disclose an expunged domestic violence charge?
There are certain situations where even if your domestic violence charge has been expunged you will have to disclose it. These situations include:
- Running for public office
- Licensure by any state agency
- Licensure by any local agency
- Contracting with the California State Lottery
An expungement does not remove the requirement for registered sex offenders to be registered for life and it does not dismiss any firearm restrictions that were imposed at sentencing. If you face another domestic violence conviction, your prior conviction will also be used against you at sentencing if you are convicted even if your prior case was expunged.
What if my domestic violence charge is felony?
If you have been charged with felony domestic violence you may still have some relief available to you. If you were convicted of felony domestic violence that resulted in prison time you may be able to obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon. The Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon applies if:
- You have lived in California for a specified period of time;
- You have lived an honest life free from criminal convictions for a specified amount of time; and
- The crime you were convicted of qualifies.
If you are granted a Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon the Governor may issue a pardon if you have clearly demonstrated that you are reformed and have become a productive member of society.
Expungement of a domestic violence conviction and applying for a Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon should be left only to qualified criminal attorneys. If you have questions regarding California’s domestic violence laws we encourage you to contact us today to confidentially discuss the details of your case.