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Expungements Remove Obligation to Pay Outstanding Fines as Well

Posted by Seth Chazin | Oct 30, 2013 | 0 Comments

The defendant, Armando Guillen, was charged by a complaint with three offenses:  felony possession of methamphetamine( Health & Saf.Code, § 11377, subd. (a)), felony sale or transportation of methamphetamine Health & Saf.Code, § 11379, subd. (a)), ), and misdemeanor driving while his license was suspended for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (Veh.Code, § 14601.2, subd. (a)).

The defendant was referred to drug court under Proposition 36 . Eventually, the defendant successfully completed his court-ordered drug treatment program, and the court terminated probation early. He was granted a Penal Code 1203.4 dismissal , also known as an expungement See (, which allows for the defendant to clear his record so that when  applying for a job there is no need to declare that he has been previously convicted of a criminal offense.  There is debate over the ways in which the defendant can receive Penal Code section 1203.4 relief and the consequences of it. It is required that, if the defendant successfully completes all conditions of probation or if the court terminates probation early, Penal Code section 1203.4 relief must be granted.

In the case of Guillen, the court provided further clarification of what an expungement does: “[E]xpungement of the conviction…[is] a substantial benefit, and restores the probationer in most respects to preconviction status.  The relief takes the form, in part, of dismissal of the charge, and the probationer is, for most purposes, thereafter restored to his or her former (preconviction) status in society.  (People v. Field, supra, 31 Cal.App.4th at p. 1787.)   The dismissal of the accusations and information functions, with a few exceptions, as a removal of the blemish of a criminal record.  (People v. Johnson, supra, 134 Cal.App.2d at p. 143.)   Consonant with the legislative intent to “remove the blemish of a criminal record,” not only is the charge dismissed, but the successful probationer is expressly released from all, except a specified few, consequences attendant on the conviction…”

Penal Code section 1203.4 is in certain circumstances within the discretion of the court and is only granted if the interests of justice support a dismissal. Some restrictions on a defendant still exist under 1203.4, but the Court of Appeal in this case says that most “penalties and disabilities” terminate upon a 1203.4 dismissal, including payment of restitution fines. For more information on expungements, see

For more information on this case:

About the Author

Seth Chazin

Seth P. Chazin has aggressively defended clients in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases for over 30 years. He has extensive experience representing criminal defendants in federal and state court, while handling both state and federal appeals as well.


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“The death penalty is a lie, a misguided mistake born of anger and frustration. Capital punishment has become a perverse monument to inequality, to how some lives matter and others do not. It is a violent example of how we protect and value the rich and abandon and devalue the poor. The death penalty is a grim, disturbing shadow formed by the legacy of racial apartheid and bias against the poor that condemns the disfavored among us, but corrupts us all. It’s the perverse symbol elected officials use to strengthen their ‘tough on crime’ reputations and distract us from confronting the causes of violence. It is finally the enemy of grace, redemption and all of us who recognize that each person is more than their worse act.”
- Bryan Stevenson