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In this series, we’ve defined criminal records and discussed the importance of knowing your criminal record history and destroying criminal records. Today we will discuss options for getting convictions dismissed.

Fortunately, there are several ways to have convictions completely dismissed from your record. These include reducing your felony to a misdemeanor, expungement, diversion, and marijuana charge erasure. These methods are explained below. 

Reducing a felony to a misdemeanor

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In the first posts in this series, we have discussed the definition of a criminal record and how to obtain your criminal record history. Today we will learn about sealing and destroying arrest records.

There are several circumstances in which records of your arrest or detention may be completely sealed and destroyed. Having your records ordered sealed and destroyed makes sure all law enforcement agencies and courts will seal you records and, after three years, destroy them. Once ordered sealed and destroyed, you need not indicate that you were ever arrested of the offenses.1

Reasons records may be sealed and destroyed

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In our last post, we discussed the definition of a criminal record and the importance of understanding a criminal record when it comes to entering a plea.

Today we are discussing the importance of knowing your criminal record history. Jail will pass, but your record will haunt you for the rest of your life. Here is how to obtain your criminal history, so you know what you’re working with.

Order of Judgment

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In the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing a series about avoiding and cleaning up your California criminal record. First we will discuss the definition of a criminal record, and why having one can impact your life beyond the conviction.

What is a criminal record?

Your criminal record is more than just a record of your convictions. It also contains the information related to your identification and criminal history, including your name, date of birth, physical description, fingerprints, photographs, date of arrests, arresting agencies, booking numbers, charges, dispositions, and other similar data1.

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This is the fifth and final in this blog series covering domestic violence in Placer County. The first four can be found here:

  1. The Placer County Domestic Violence Court and common domestic violence charges
  2. Victim and witness participation issues
  3. What to do if you’re involved in a domestic dispute and common defenses to domestic violence charges.
  4. Protective and restraining orders

This post will focus on sentence and probation in domestic violence convictions.

If you are convicted of a domestic violence charge, your sentence will depend on a number of factors. These include the particular crime you committed, any aggravating or mitigating circumstances that may exist, and the number of offenses you’ve committed.

Statutory Sentence

Misdemeanor domestic violence crimes are punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine, or both.

Felony domestic violence crimes carry a lower, middle, and upper term sentence. The amount of jail time you face varies depending on the facts and circumstances of each case.

For instance, felony Penal Code Section 273.5 is punishable by imprisonment in a state prison for two, three, or four years if probation is denied. Continue reading →

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This is the fourth in this blog series covering domestic violence in Placer County. The first three can be found here:

  1. The Placer County Domestic Violence Court and common domestic violence charges
  2. Victim and witness participation issues
  3. What to do if you’re involved in a domestic dispute and common defenses to domestic violence charges.

A protective or restraining order is a judicial degree that makes it a crime for the restrained person to defy the terms of the order. The two basic types of protective orders are civil and criminal.

Civil Protective Orders

A civil restraining or protective order is obtained, often on an emergency basis, by a person to prevent another person from harassing, disturbing, or contacting them

The civil order can also direct the restrained person to stay away from a home, vehicle, or school and can control who may live in the home, and who may have child custody and visitation rights.

To obtain a civil protective order, an applicant must show that she or he is in immediate and present danger of domestic violence based a recent incident of abuse or threatened abuse by the person to be restrained.

The violation of a civil protective order is a misdemeanor. Continue reading →

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This is the third in this blog series covering domestic violence in Placer County. The first post outlined the Placer County Domestic Violence Court and covered the most common domestic violence charges. The second post covered victim and witness participation issues. This post outlines the things you should do if you are involved in a domestic dispute, as well as common defenses to domestic violence charges.

When law enforcement officers respond to a domestic dispute, they often make assumptions about who they believe to be the aggressor and and who they believe to be the victim. Unfortunately, this can cause them to be biased in their investigation, and can lead to evidence and testimony that is hard to challenge later on. If you are involved in a domestic dispute, there are several things you can do to protect yourself.

Remain Silent

Do not reply to an officer’s questions and make sure you tell them you wish to speak to your attorney. This is imperative even if you did nothing wrong because the officer may not perceive things the way you do. Continue reading →

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This is the second in this blog series covering domestic violence in Placer County. The first post outlined the Placer County Domestic Violence Court and covered the most common domestic violence charges. This post will cover victim and witness participation issues.

Charging Decision

In many domestic violence cases, the alleged victim may no longer want their partner or loved one to face charges after they reconcile. In the interest of justice, however, prosecutors can still choose to pursue charges even if the parties involved would like to move on.

In such cases, the prosecution still has the burden of proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt—which is often difficult without the alleged victim’s cooperation and testimony. Continue reading →

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This is the first in a five-part blog series covering domestic violence crimes in Placer County. This post outlines the formation of the Placer County Domestic Violence Court and the Family Violence Unity of the Placer County District Attorney’s Office. It also covers the most common domestic violence offenses.

Placer County Domestic Violence Court

In response to increasing domestic violence incidents within the county and to increase batterer accountability and victim safety, Placer County established the Placer County Domestic Violence Court in 2005. A single judge is assigned to this court.

Additionally, the Placer County District Attorney’s Office created the Family Violence Unit, which is composed of five deputy district attorneys that specifically prosecute spousal, child, and elder abuse cases.

Continue reading →

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Placer County is one of the toughest in California when it comes to enforcing DUI laws and has specialized courts to handle such cases.

In response to three prominent DUI homicides in 2005—including the death of a respected police officer and a child on a bicycle—Placer County assembled a task force to determine ways to deter DUIs and reduce risks.

Placer County Drunk Driving Prosecution

(photo credit: JSmith Photo via photopin cc)

DUI Second and Third Offenders

The task force placed special emphasis on second offenders. In an attempt to separate out “high risk” offenders, the probation department administers a psychological test. If the defendant scores poorly on the test (or has other risk factors such as a recent prior), formal probation is ordered.

The DA asks for 30 days of jail time for all second offenses. California law requires only 48 hours in custody. The statewide average is 10 days or less—often 48 hours plus an eight-day work project.

Third and subsequent offenders are deemed dangerous. The task force determined the best way to protect the public is to incarcerate these offenders for as long as possible. Continue reading →