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Defendants With Suspended Prison Sentences Are Now Eligible for Expungements in California


Can a Suspended Sentence Be Expunged?

The 2nd District Court of Appeal recently has held, in a reversal of previous California law, that where a prison sentence is imposed but suspended in execution (a “suspended prison sentence”), a defendant is still considered a “probationer” within the meaning of Penal Code section 1203.4, and is now eligible for expungement of their convictions. This is great news for people who have been seeking expungements of their prior criminal convictions, but were told they were ineligible because of a previously suspended prison sentence!

In the case of People v. Parker (2DCA No. B234010) defendant Rick Parker Jr. filed a petition under California Penal Code section 1203.4 to set aside his 2006 conviction for possession of cocaine base for sale. These petitions are commonly called expungements in California. The trial court told Mr. Parker he was ineligible for relief because he had been given a suspended prison sentence when he was originally convicted. Mr. Parker appealed and won the appeal. The Court of Appeals held that Penal Code 1203.4 applies to “probationers” and Mr. Parker was on probation because his suspended prison sentence was never executed – he was never sent to State Prison. Therefore he is eligible for expungements in California!

It should be noted that in their written opinion the Court indicated that if the Legislature disagreed with their decision it could enact laws to the contrary, although the Court also did not give any opinion about whether the lawmakers should do so. There may only be limited time to obtain expungements under this new ruling before the law changes again. Many types of prior convictions can be dismissed as a result of the California expungement including DUI offenses, misdemeanors, and even most felony crimes.

Experienced California Expungements Attorney

Expungements are a great way to take that first step toward obtaining better employment, licensing, student loans, and other benefits you simply cannot obtain with a criminal conviction on your record. Contact Santa Rosa criminal defense attorney Evan E. Zelig to find out if you are eligible to clear your criminal record under Penal Code section 1203.4 Our offices are in Sonoma County, but we handle criminal record clearing and expungements of all eligible offenses throughout California! Call (707) 636-3204 or (888) ZELIG-LAW today!