Driving under the influence is one of the most commonly committed crimes in the United States. The common nature of this crime may cause some people to think that a DUI conviction is not a big deal, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. A DUI conviction can have a detrimental impact on your life, including your job, your driving privilege and your reputation. This is especially true for those who wish to attain or maintain employment in careers that are greatly dependent on a clean criminal record or driving record.
The good news is that even if you are convicted, your DUI conviction does not have to follow you forever. You have several options to remove this DUI conviction from your record.
Appealing a DUI Conviction
If there was a significant flaw in the way your case was conducted in court, you may file for an appeal. In order for your appeal to be heard, you must file a notice of appeal with the court within 30 days (60 days for a felony) from the date of your conviction. The appellate court will then review your case for legal errors that were made.
Typical arguments for appealing a DUI conviction include:
- Improper or false arrest;
- Improperly admitted or excluded evidence;
- Insufficient evidence to make the conviction;
- Ineffective assistance of defense counsel;
- Prosecutorial or jury misconduct; or
- Judicial errors.
Keep in mind that an appeal is not a new trial. The appellate court will not take in evidence or hear from witnesses. It is a different type of court proceeding, and it takes a skilled lawyer with appellate experience to win your appeal.
If you are successful, there are three types of outcomes. The appellate court can order that you have a new trial, order the trial court to modify your sentence in accordance with its review, or, if the appellate court finds an error was significant, such as a conviction with insufficient evidence, it may throw out your conviction altogether.
Expunging Your Record (Penal Code Section 1203.4)
If your appeal is unsuccessful or you are unable to appeal your conviction, you may still have your conviction removed from your record by petitioning for an expungement. The court will review your record, and if it finds your case is eligible for expungement, it will set aside the DUI conviction, and dismiss your case.
An expungement is not a perfect solution, because the conviction may still affect you if your career requires a state license of some type (such as a state bar license, a medical license or teaching credentials). In addition, the conviction still counts as a prior offense if you are charged with another DUI within 10 years of your original conviction. However, an expungement has significant benefits. You will not be required to disclose your conviction on job applications, and the conviction will no longer appear on your credit report.
Am I Eligible for Expungement?
To be eligible for an expungement in California, you must not have served a state prison sentence. You may be eligible to have your case dismissed if you were sentenced to county jail, probation, a fine, or a combination of these sentences.
There are multiple steps to having your case expunged. You must:
- complete the terms of your probation;
- pay all restitution and fines ordered by the court;
- finish all court programs, such as DUI school or MADD Victim Impact Panels; and
- have no new criminal convictions pending.
Modification or Termination of Your Probation (Penal Code section 1203.3)
If you are currently on probation for DUI, your attorney may be able request a modification or early termination of your probation in order to help you obtain an expungement. Under California Penal Code section 1203.3, the court has the discretion to revoke, modify, or change the terms of your probation order at any time during the term of probation. This includes the ability to terminate your probation term early if the court finds that there is good cause to do so.
Reducing Your Felony Conviction to a Misdemeanor
You can get an expungement for a felony conviction, but you should first have your attorney make a motion with the court to have the charge reduced to a misdemeanor. Reducing the crime to a misdemeanor before expungement will increase your chances of having your expungement granted by the court.
Under California Penal Code Section 17(b), you can get your felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor if your crime is a “wobbler”. A “wobbler” is a crime that can be charged either as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the circumstances of your case. The court will consider a number of factors in deciding whether to grant your motion, such as the facts of your case, your prior criminal history (if any), and whether you have complied with the terms of your probation.
Once your felony has been reduced to a misdemeanor, you may be able to get the misdemeanor expunged under California Penal Code section 1203.4.
Contact the DUI Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
If you or someone you care about has been convicted of a DUI, you will need an experienced and aggressive attorney to help you remove your DUI conviction from your record. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience at successfully helping clients like you reduce the impact of a DUI conviction on their lives. We can help you, too. Contact us today for a free, no obligation phone consultation.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney experienced in DUI appeals and expungement motions near you, no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.