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Fresh Start Program

The Law Offices of the Public Defender, Riverside County’s “Fresh Start Program" is designed to give information about the various types of post-conviction relief available to clear your record for improved opportunities for employment, professional licensing or consumer credit.

If you've been convicted of a crime you may be eligible for relief. Some convictions can be modified on your record so that when you apply for most jobs, you can legally indicate that you were not convicted of that crime. Other convictions may be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor in certain situations. Also, Riverside County residents who have completed a term in prison may be eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation

A paralegal is available at the Riverside County Public Defender's Main Office located at 4075 Main Street, Suite 100, Riverside to assist you in getting the process started.  You can obtain the documents necessary to begin the process by clicking on the buttons on this page for the type of relief you are seeking.

To apply to Fresh Start: Download the application packet, fill out the application and financial statement as completely as possible and gather additional needed documentation such as letters of reference and certificates.  Email your filled-out application, financial declaration and additional documents to: LEMartinez@rivco.org.

While email is our preferred form of communication, you may also mail or bring the completed packets into the Main Office.  You can also request a packet be mailed to you by making a request by email or by calling (951) 955-6072.

We offer the following "Fresh Start" services:

  • Dismissals/Expungements
  • Felony Reduction
  • Early Probation Termination
  • Sealing Arrest Records
  • Certificates of Rehab and Pardon
  • Proposition 47 petitions
  • Proposition 64 petitions
  • Relief from 290 registration pursuant to SB 384/SB 145

The following is a brief explanation about the various types of relief available, including early termination of probation, reduction to a misdemeanor, expungement, and Certificates of Rehabilitation.

In each section, you'll find a link to our "Fresh Start Application" which you'll need to submit to request our services in clearing your criminal record.  The forms for each type of relief are also provided, should you wish to file them on your own.

YOUR CASE RELIEF DESIRED PROCEDURE
You were arrested but charges were never filed Record of arrest sealed and destroyed
You suffered an arrest that did not result in a conviction To seal your arrest and related records

File petition to have your arrest and related records sealed as described in section 851.92.

You were convicted of a misdemeanor and are still on probation Request early termination of Probation and file petition to have the conviction dismissed

File a 1203.3 petition to have probation terminated early and a 1203.4 petition fora dismissal.

You were convicted of a misdemeanor and have successfully completed probation File a petition to have the conviction dismissed

File a 1203.4 petition for dismissal.

You were convicted of a misdemeanor but were not placed on probation File a petition to have the conviction dismissed

File a 1203.4a petition for dismissal.

You were convicted of a felony “wobbler” and are still on probation Request early release from probation and file a petition to have the conviction reduced to a misdemeanor and dismissed

File a 1203.3 to have probation terminate early. File a 17b to get felony reduced to a misdemeanor and file a 1203.4 petition for a dismissal.

You were convicted of a felony and have completed your probation and/or county jail sentence File a petition to have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor and dismissed

File petition to have felony reduced and dismissed.

You were convicted of a felony, were not given probation and were sentenced to county jail File a petition to have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor and dismissed

File a 17b petition and get the felony reduced and a 1203.4 petition for a dismissal.

You were convicted of a felony in any county in California and were sentenced to state prison and you have lived in Riverside County for the past five years File a petition for Certificate of Rehabilitation & Pardon

File of 4852.01 petition for Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon File a 17b petition and get the felony reduced and a 1203.4 petition for a dismissal.

You were convicted of a felony, were not given probation and were sentenced to serve your state prison sentence in county jail under section 1170(h)

OR were convicted of a felony prior to 2011 and were sentenced to state prison, but your crime would now carry an 1170(h) sentence

To dismiss my charges and seek expungement under sections 1203.41 & 1203.42

File petition to have your felony reduced and dismissed as described in sections 1203.41 & 1203.42

 

  • EXPUNGEMENT
  • REDUCTION TO MISDEMEANOR
  • EARLY TERMINATION OF PROBATION
  • CERTIFICATE OF REHABILITATION
  • PROPOSITION 47
  • PROPOSITION 64

[Cal. Penal Code 1203.4 & 1203.4a]

Under Penal Code section 1203.4, a conviction may be set aside and dismissed on your record so that when you apply for most jobs you can legally indicate that you were not covicted of that crime. In order to qualify, you must not be on probation or parole, you were not sentenced to state prison on this case, you are not currently charged for a crime, and your conviction is from Riverside County.

Expungement is the process that allows a person to withdraw his or her guilty plea, enter a plea of not guilty, and have the charges dismissed.
In order to be eligible to request this relief either:

  1. You received probation for that conviction and:
    • You successfully completed probation or terminated early.
    • You also have paid all the fines, restitution, and reimbursements ordered by the court as part of your sentence.
    • You are not currently serving another sentence or on probation for another offense, AND
    • You are not currently charged with another offense.
      OR
  2. You never received probation and:
    • Your conviction was a misdemeanor.
    • It has been at least one year since the date you were convicted.
    • You have complied fully with the sentence of the court.
    • You are not currently serving another sentence.
    • You are not currently charged with another offense AND
    • You have obeyed the law and lived an honest and upright life since the time of your conviction.

You are eligible for an expungement and the court has the discretion (choice) to grant you that relief if: You received probation but had a minor violation AND:

  • You have paid all the fines, restitution and reimbursements, ordered by the court as part of your sentence, AND
  • You are not currently charged with, on probation for, or serving a sentence on any other offense.

It is up to the court to decide if your conviction should be expunged, so make sure to give us as much helpful information as possible to convince the court to grant you your request. Once your expungement request is granted, you can, in most situations, answer "no", to a question on an employment application, asking if you've ever been convicted of a criminal offense. An expungement does not:

  • Seal the conviction record.
  • Allow you to own or possess a firearm.
  • Prevent the conviction from being alleged as a "prior conviction" in future prosecutions.
  • Remove the conviction for immigration purposes.
  • Relieve you from the obligation to register as a sex offender.

Fresh Start Application Financial Statement Form

[Cal. Penal Code 17(b)]

In some instances your case may warrant a reduction to a misdemeanor. In order for us to assist you, you must provide the following documentation:

  • A copy of your police report, if you were not a former Public Defender client.
  • Documentation showing completion or current enrollment in an educational, vocational or rehabilitation plan.
  • Documentation showing you have been rehabilitated since your conviction. (Volunteer work, participation in social organizations or church activities, etc.)

Fresh Start Application Financial Statement Form

If you are still on probation and would like to terminate your probation early, we can help. In seeking this relief, you must have a good reason to make this request. For example, you have an offer for a job or are seeking a job that requires that you are not currently on probation, or that as part of your plea agreement you were promised an early termination of probation upon the successful completion of certain terms and conditions of probation.

In order to request an expungment you cannot currently be on probation or parole. However, if you can show the court "good cause" you can then request early termination of probation.

Examples of "good cause" may include written proof that:

  • An employer is denying a job due to your criminal history.
  • An employer has given you a termination notice due to your criminal history.
  • The military will not accept you due to your criminal history.
  • A professional licensing agency is denying you a license for work (ie. nursing, contracting, etc) due to your criminal history.

You must also have:

  • Fulfilled all terms and conditions of probation with no violations.
  • Completed any program requirements (i.e. drinking driver classes, domestic violence classes, parenting classes, etc.).
  • Paid all fines and fees.
  • Completed a substantial period of the probation time unless there are unusual circumstances.

Fresh Start Application Financial Statement Form

[Cal. Penal Code 4852.01]

A Certificate of Rehabilitation is available for persons who do not qualify for the expungment process; it is a legal action to restore your civil rights. Most individuals that seek this relief have had prison sentences. Basically, when the court grants a Certificate of Rehabilitation it is declaring that you've been "rehabilitated". When a petition is granted, it acts as an automatic application to the Governor for a Pardon.
To be eligible for this relief:

  • You must have been convicted of a misdemeanor sex offense or a felony
    AND
  • You must have resided in California for at least 5 years before filing the petition
    AND
  • You must have completed a "period of rehabilitation" (ranging from 7 to 10 years, depending on the conviction offense(s)).
  • Additionally, if you were placed on probation, you must first have had the conviction expunged.

If you cannot establish the 5 year residency requirement, you can pursue a Governor's Pardon directly [Cal. Penal Code 4800]. How to apply for a pardon. Any questions regarding the Governor's Pardon should be directed to Govenor's Website.(www.gov.ca.gov)

A Certificate of Rehabilitation does not:

  • Seal your record
  • Allow you to deny the conviction in response to questions on employment applications or for State licensure
  • Restore your right to own or possess a firearm
  • Apply to all offenses. If your conviction was for a violation of Penal Code 286(c), 288, 288a(c), 288.5, 289(j), or you are serving life parole, you may not petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation.

Fresh Start Application Financial Statement Form

Prop 47 permits some individuals convicted of certain controlled substance and theft-related offenses (of less than $950), to request their felony convictions to be recalled and designated as a misdemeanor. All requests must be submitted by November 4, 2022:

  • If you have a felony record of the following crimes your felony may be able to be changed to a misdemeanor: Simple drug possession
  • Petty theft under 950 dollars
  • Shoplifting under 950 dollars
  • Forging or writing a bad check under 950 dollars
  • Receipt of stolen property under 950 dollars

Prop 47 does not apply to everyone. If a person has been previously convicted of serious crimes, including rape, murder, or child molestation or is in the sex offender registry, they will not be eligible for reclassification.

Fresh Start Application Financial Statement Form Prop 47 Petition

Prop 64 permits most people with prior marijuana convictions to have their convictions either reduced to misdemeanors or dismissed entirely.

If you have a felony or misdemeanor record of the following crimes, you may be eligible to have your felony reduced to a misdemeanor or your felony/misdemeanor dismissed:

  • Health and Safety Code (or H&S) § 11357 (Possession of marijuana; Possession of concentrated cannabis; Possession of marijuana on school grounds)
  • H&S § 11358 (Cultivation of marijuana)
  • H&S § 11359 (Possession of marijuana with the intent to sell)
  • H&S § 11360 (Marijuana sales)
Fresh Start Application Financial Statement Form Prop 64 Petition
Please complete the forms in full, include all information requested. Incomplete forms will be returned for further information. Email the application and Financial statement form to LEMartinez@rivco.org, or by mail to: Law offices of the Public Defender Fresh Start Program - Lawanda Martinez 4075 Main St., Suite 100 Riverside, CA 92501 Direct Telephone (951) 955-6072 or by fax; (951) 955-6025
Copyright 2021 by RCIT
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