Fresh Start Act and Expungement

Penalties for criminal convictions are, or at least should be, proportional to the crime committed and the damage caused. If you commit a crime that caused damage to another then restitution, payments made to another for damage caused, will likely be included in your sentencing or plea agreement.  Oftentimes, the amount of restitution owed is so impossibly high that a defendant does not have the means to pay it.  If you are unable to pay off the entire amount, post-conviction motions to expunge the criminal conviction may be unavailable which may prohibit employment opportunities or advancement. 

CA Senate Bill 1106, which took effect on January 1, 2023, is intended to address this problem. Commonly known as the Fresh Start Act, this bill works to remove the insurmountable hurdle of restitution payments to allow more people the chance to get past criminal convictions expunged (otherwise known in California as a dismissal pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.4). 

Historically, meeting all the requirements to get a criminal record expunged has been very difficult, and the inability to pay steep restitution amounts has been a significant barrier for many people. With CA Senate Bill 1106, more people in Orange County, California with qualifying criminal convictions have a chance at a fresh start with a clean record. Call The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian at 855-918-4253 today to see if you are eligible for a criminal record expungement.

What is restitution?

Restitution is payment for damage caused. In criminal sentencing, the convicted person may be ordered to pay restitution to the court and to the victim of the criminal act. 

Although this may sound reasonable, it is an impossible task for some.  When a judge determines the amount of restitution a defendant must pay, they are not required to consider their actual ability to pay.  As such, a person convicted of a crime may be ordered to pay an amount that they could not afford even prior to having a criminal conviction.  And to make matters worse, a criminal record makes getting a job to pay those fines even more difficult. 

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What is an expungement?

An expungement, otherwise known in California as a dismissal pursuant to Penal Code 1203.4, is the legal process of getting a qualifying criminal conviction dismissed. In the past, expunging criminal convictions from a criminal record has been difficult because only certain felonies and misdemeanors are eligible for expungement, wherein all the terms of a criminal sentence had to be met, which includes any restitution. Being unable to pay high restitution amounts made eligibility impossible for some people. However, CA Senate Bill 1106, the Fresh Start Act, is changing that. 

Expungement is the chance to remove life obstacles created by criminal convictions so you can earn a living, find a place to live, and travel internationally to see your family. Once your record is expunged:      

  • Barriers to international travel are reduced
  • Landlords may not legally consider your dismissed criminal record when reviewing a rental/lease application
  • Civilian employers may not legally consider dismissed criminal convictions when reviewing an application 

In an expungement, your criminal conviction and the guilty plea or guilty verdict is reviewed to determine if the criminal conviction qualifies for a dismissal. Then, if it qualifies, the guilty plea (if the defendant pled guilty) is removed and a not guilty plea is entered as to each conviction. Then each conviction is dismissed pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.4, which is what will be displayed on your court record. 

Expungement prevents an employer from considering information about the conviction or associated arrest once it has been expunged. California law states that an employer may not use the expunged conviction to discriminate against an applicant or employee for the purposes of hiring, firing or promotion.  If an employer does use this information for those purposes, financial damages may be levied against the employer. 

Moreover, when a civilian employer asks if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you can truthfully answer “no” once the conviction is expunged. 

How will the Fresh Start Act affect expungement?

For those who completed their sentencing and want to get back to society and live a normal life, expungement seems like a way out. Before 2023, outstanding restitution payments blocked that possibility for many people. The heavy fines and costs often prevented people from rising above their criminal background, particularly the economically disadvantaged and those in underprivileged communities. 

The Fresh Start Act removes restitution as a barrier to expungement. Although CA Senate Bill 1106 does not cancel or dismiss the restitution payment, it does allow a person to expunge their criminal record even if they have not paid restitution in full.  After the criminal convictions are expunged, more job opportunities become available and provide the possibility to earn enough money to pay the remaining restitution, fulfill their legal obligations and become more financially stable to provide for themselves and their family. 

Find out if your record is eligible for expungement under CA Senate Bill 1106 by calling The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian in Orange County, California, today at 855-918-4253.

Are you eligible for expungement under the Fresh Start Act?

An experienced California expungement attorney will be able to advise you on the possibility for expungement for your particular criminal record. You may be able to get your criminal record expunged through the Fresh Start Act if you meet the following eligibility conditions according to California Penal Code 1203.4: 

  • You did not go to state prison 
  • You were not convicted for a serious sexual offense or violent crime
  • Your probation is completed or terminated
  • You did not violate the terms of your probation

Even if you had a probation violation, you may still be eligible for record expungement. Your attorney may be able to argue your case for expungement even if you feel you do not meet the requirements. And there is no need to wait – you may be able to file for expungement the day after your probation ends. Call our Orange County, California office at 855-918-4253 to discuss your case. 

There are certain crimes that also affect whether a criminal record can be expunged. Many minor infractions and misdemeanors are eligible for expungement, as well as some felonies. Some of the crimes that are eligible for expungement under CA Senate Bill 1106 includes, but is not limited to: 

Additionally, some felony charges may be expunged, but even more specific conditions must be met. Even if a felony charge cannot be expunged, there may be other options available to mitigate the damage to your reputation, such as a certificate of rehabilitation or a direct pardon. 

The expungement attorneys at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian are happy to discuss your particular case with you. Call 855-918-4253 or contact us online to learn more about your expungement under CA Senate Bill 1106. 

Call us to discuss your options

When the conditions for expungement are met and it is granted by the judge, you will be able to withdraw your guilty plea or plea of no contest, enter a not guilty plea, and the court will dismiss the conviction. At that point, your record will show that the case has been dismissed pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.4. You can then get the fresh start you deserve. 

Your expungement attorney will handle the details and any court appearances on your behalf so you can get back to your life and back to work. The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian is very experienced in expunging arrest records and convictions, and our attorneys in Orange County, California, are ready to help our clients fully regain their freedom. 

Wipe the Slate Clean with California’s Fresh Start Act

Being convicted of a crime in Orange County, California should not follow you throughout your entire life. Take back control by learning if your record is eligible for expungement under CA Senate Bill 1106 by calling The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian today at 855-918-4253.

We have offices in Santa Ana, Westminster, Newport Beach and Fullerton to serve clients with matters heard at the Central, West, Harbor, and North Justice Centers, respectively, for all of Orange County.  The lawyers at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian are here to help!  Book an online consultation to get started today.