Is it better to get expungement or a reduction to a misdemeanor? 17 Answers as of November 16, 2010

I want to get my felony removed. I am going back to try and get employment. I have struggled because of a past felony. I completed all the repercussions. What is the best way to do this? I am in California. Does a lawyer need to do this?

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Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
You do not have to have a lawyer - there is usually a packet you can get from the courthouse to do it yourself. But it's obviously less stressful if you have a lawyers help.

Assuming that you were not convicted of a non-reducible felony, it's a two-step process to request the reduction and then the expungement but it can be done in one motion. If you have successfully completed probation, it's usually not a problem. If you are still on probation, it is not unusual for the court to grant the reduction but continue the informal probation until its completion.

Once you have your expungement, you are still supposed to inform anyone who asks that you have been convicted of a felony but it has been expunged. Clearly, this defeats the purpose of the expungement and the reality is that many people simply take their chances once they have been granted expungement and answer no when asked they've ever been convicted.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/16/2010
Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller
Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller | Thomas Mueller
We always recommend that two Motions be made. One - to reduce to a misdemeanor pursuant to Penal Code Section 17(b). The other - to expunge the conviction. They can occur on the same day and time and we feel the best course is to do both.

Our office is very experienced in handling these matters. For more information or to be represented, please call us.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/9/2010
Wise Law Group
Wise Law Group | Michael J. Wise, Esq
Depending on the conviction, you should be able to do both with a single motion.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/6/2010
Law Office of Thomas J. Ogas
Law Office of Thomas J. Ogas | Thomas Ogas
You can do both in California, so long as the Felony you were convicted of is reducible. Check with an attorney to find out if it is.

Many counties have self-help forms for expungements, so you might be able to do it yourself. Check with the county courthouse's "help center" to find out. If not, you will have to hire a lawyer to do the process for you.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/5/2010
The Law Office of Stacey Wolcott
The Law Office of Stacey Wolcott | Stacey Wolcott
I would suggest that you do both at the same time, a PC 17(b) motion to reduce your felony to a misdemeanor and a 1203.4 motion to expunge. I do tell people that it is an option for you to file the appropriate paperwork yourself. However, I would suggest that if you are serious about having this take place you seek out an attorney to do an actual written motion so that you can make sure the Judge understands your reasons for wanting such a motion to be granted. Also in most courthouses that I am familiar with will only grant you a hearing if in fact you file a written motion, if you just file the paperwork yourself it will just be placed on a Judges desk and when they get to it they get to it. I would be happy to discuss all of this in person with you at a free consultation.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/5/2010
    Law Office of William M. Concidine
    Law Office of William M. Concidine | William Concidine
    It is better to have a misdemeanor than a felony whether or not you will be able to accomplish a reduction depends on the type of offense you were convicted for. The next step would be to get the expungement whether the offense remains a felony or is reduced to a misdemeanor.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/5/2010
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    If your conviction was for a "wobbler" (a crime that could be charged either as a felony or misdemeanor) you can do both. Under PC 17(b) you can reduce it to a misdemeanor and then under PC 1203.4 you can get it expunged. You can then honestly state you have never been convicted of a felony. The real problem is that expungement really doesn't do much for you today. Most prospective employers require you to sign an authorization allowing them to get your record or they don't hire you.

    If you were on probation most Probation Departments will do this for you without charge - if you have successfully completed probation and do not have a current charge pending or were convicted after this case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/5/2010
    Hale Law Group
    Hale Law Group | Joshua D. Hale
    Depending on crime, you will need to reduce to a misdemeanor, and then expunge. Yes, you should probably have a lawyer. Call my office at your convenience.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/11/2010
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Expungement IS reduction of felony to misdemeanor and then dismissal.

    Many felony and misdemeanor convictions [not infractions] can sometimes be expunged by proper application and Petition to the court, but only if there was no prison time served or even sentenced, if it was not for certain sex and Domestic Violence crimes, if all terms of sentencing and probation [and at least one year of probation] are completed and finished, and if there are no new charges pending. If successful, the conviction would be retroactively withdrawn and the charges dismissed. That does not remove the conviction, but merely changes the record to show conviction reversed and dismissed by expungement. If expunged, you would be able to say no to conviction on most private employment applications. However, the conviction is still a prior for purposes of repeat offense, and must be disclosed on any application for government and professional licensing, bonding, security clearance, etc. The licensing agency and employer then can decide whether you are barred from licensing and employment because of your conviction. If you are serious about doing so, and you think you qualify, feel free to contact me for the legal help you will need.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/11/2010
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    Depending on the charge, you may be able to do both. Any felony charge that is a "wobbler" (meaning it can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony) can be reduced to a misdemeanor and "expunged." These are things you can do yourself, but for the most efficient way and to make sure it is done properly, you should contact a criminal defense attorney who practices in the area where your case was. It is not terribly expensive. There are some law firms that charge several thousand dollars for this - way too much in my opinion.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/9/2010
    The English Law Firm
    The English Law Firm | Robert English
    You should be able to get a reduction to a misdemeanor and have the misdemeanor expunged. I would consult an attorney for specifics on your case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/9/2010
    Steven Mandell
    Steven Mandell | Law Offices of Steven Mandell
    With an experienced criminal lawyer, it may be possible to get the felony reduced to a misdemeanor, and THEN expunged. Depending on the facts, it may be possible to do even better than that. That could, at a minimum, allow you to deny that you were ever convicted of any criminal offense in an application for a job. It's possible to do it yourself, but it would be very difficult. Would you do minor surgery on yourself or a loved one? Of course not. I is the same idea. You need a good lawyer. If you would like to discuss this with me, please do not hesitate to call me for a free consultation. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/8/2010
    Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan
    Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan | Geoffrey M. Yaryan
    If it is a reduce able offense then you can have both, reduced to a misdemeanor and expunged. To have it reduced to a misdemeanor you need an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/8/2010
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    While legally you can handle this matter without being a lawyer, I would recommend hiring one. More often than not, you can get better results with a lawyer who is experienced in these matters and the Court system then someone who is not. You can call me for a free consultation if you would like to discuss further.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/8/2010
    Law Offices of Ramona Hallam
    Law Offices of Ramona Hallam | Ramona Hallam
    You do not have to have an attorney but it would be easier. Go online to the courts self help center and they will walk you through it. You will need to have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor and then have it expunged. It has to be an expungeable offense but you will find out if it is as you read the materials.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/8/2010
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    You need to get a lawyer to first file a 17(b) motion to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor. Then, after the motion is successful, your lawyer can file a petition for expungement. It is a 2 step process, and you definitely need a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/8/2010
    Alanna D. Coopersmith, Attorney at Law
    Alanna D. Coopersmith, Attorney at Law | Alanna D. Coopersmith
    Get it reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, and then dismissed. It is worth it to get a lawyer.

    Also, it is helpful to get a complete copy of your rap sheet. You can get this via the California Department of Justice website. Or if you're sure you have no out of county convictions, you can request it and get it quickly from the county sheriffs office.

    Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/8/2010
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