There are some convicted DUI/DWI drivers who believe their criminal records will remain with them forever, similar to a permanent record like in school. However, there are several types of post-conviction relief available that reduce or eliminate the consequences of having a drunk-driving-related criminal record. One such option is expungement. A California attorney with experience clearing DUI/DWI convictions can review each case to determine whether expungement is an option.
First, only certain convictions can be expunged. Factors to consider are whether the offender was a juvenile or an adult; whether the conviction was for a misdemeanor or a felony; whether probation was granted; and whether a term in state prison was mandated.
If the petition to expunge the conviction is granted, the defendant is allowed to withdraw the previous plea of guilty or no contest and submit a plea of not guilty. If the defendant was found guilty by a jury, that judgment is set aside. Once an expungement is granted, the court will notify the Department of Justice, to ensure that that the petitioner obtains the full benefit of the dismissal.
Secondly, expungements will not be granted if the offender is currently serving a sentence for another crime, has a pending criminal charge, has a warrant for his or her arrest, or is still on probation for the conviction he or she wishes expunged. However, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can petition the court to terminate probation early so that a convicted DUI driver can benefit from post-conviction relief.
Not every case will qualify for early termination of probation. In order to terminate probation early, the court must determine that the driver’s good conduct and reform justify the action, and that the interests of justice would be served by early termination. The driver’s attorney must submit a request to modify probation to the court where the original conviction took place. The court will not grant early termination of probation if all fines and restitution are not paid in full. Basically, the court needs to believe that the driver has learned his or her lesson and has conscientiously followed the terms of his or her probation.
There are numerous benefits to expungement. Most importantly, once convictions are expunged, job applicants are not required to reveal their criminal records. Even when a criminal conviction must be revealed, such as in licensing applications or jobs in the public sector, the criminal record will be updated to show that the conviction has been replaced by a dismissal.
Expungements aren’t available in every case, but post-conviction relief can be achieved in some instances. An attorney experienced in obtaining post-conviction relief can evaluate each case to determine whether expungement may be possible.