Post Conviction Relief

Early Termination of Probation (Penal Code 1203.3)
Whether you are on informal or formal probation, we can help you terminate probation early. Generally speaking, once you are about halfway through your period of probation, we can request probation be terminated. This is important, because terminating probation early puts you in the best position to pursue an expungement. Even if you have not been fully successful while on probation (picked up a new criminal case or a probation violation), we can still seek an early termination of probation.

Petition for Dismissal (“Expungement”; Penal Code 1203.4)
Nearly all state criminal offenses can be expunged. In California, an expungement does 3 things: it withdraws your guilty plea (or sets aside the guilty verdict), it reinstates your “not guilty” plea, and it sets aside the conviction. In California, the effect of an expungement is that it allows you to state that you have never been convicted of a criminal offense (there are a few limited exceptions).

Reduced Offense Level (Reduce Felony to Misdemeanor; Reclassify Felony as Misdemeanor; Penal Code 17; Proposition 47)
In California, many felony offenses can be reduced to misdemeanors. The benefit here is that the offense becomes a misdemeanor for all purposes. As well, some offenses that were once strict felonies have now been reclassified as misdemeanors.

Penal Code section 1473.7 Relief
On September 28, 2016, California Governor Brown signed into law Penal Code section 1473.7, a new provision regarding habeas corpus. Effective January 1, 2017, the law's main purpose was to allow people no longer in actual or constructive custody to challenge the validity of an old conviction.

The law created two grounds for relief:
Legal invalidity based upon prejudicial error damaging the defendant’s ability to knowingly accept or defend against actual or potential adverse immigration consequences; and, Newly discovered evidence of actual innocence.

However, the initial version of section 1473.7 was not perfect, and many courts denied relief on the basis that jurisdiction over a 1473.7 motion required the moving party to be currently in removal proceedings or have suffered a final order of deportation. The California Court of Appeal held that interpretation to be incorrect, and the California legislature amended the section in 2019 to clarify that the moving party need only establish that they are not in actual or constructive criminal custody.

As well, many courts interpreted section 1473.7 as requiring a showing of ineffective assistance of counsel. This issue was also addressed in the amended statute, and again the legislature clarified that a finding of legal invalidity need not be based upon a finding of ineffective assistance of counsel.

The effect of these amendments was to make relief under this section more readily available to eligible clients. This is outstanding news for those clients who are at risk for adverse immigration consequences, as a grant under 1473.7 eliminates the existing conviction or sentence and allows the client to withdraw his plea.

For nearly 20 years we have helped our clients move beyond a criminal conviction. Whether reducing the level of offense from a felony to a misdemeanor, terminating probation early, or achieving a dismissal (“expungement”), we have obtained post-conviction relief for scores of clients.

But for many clients facing immigration proceedings, an expungement simply won’t work.

Thankfully, Penal Code 1473.7 gives these clients an avenue for relief and an opportunity for a future in the United States. If you, a friend, or a family member are at risk for adverse immigration consequences resulting from an old conviction, give us a call, and let’s work collaboratively to protect the ability to remain in this country.