can I get my felony arson dropped or reduced?

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can I get my felony arson dropped or reduced?

I was charged with setting a rubbish fire 6 years ago. I have been off probation 2 years now. I went to find a job only to find out I was really charged with a felony arson. No one will hire me. My whole life has been ruined because of one mistake? I can’t, no I don’t want to believe this. What can I do? I can’t pay my restitution and court fines with no job. I want this all behind me.Please help me!!

Asked on May 20, 2009 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

 

In California, an expungement is a legal process by which a criminal conviction is dismissed.  A guilty plea, “no contest” plea or a finding of guilt by a judge or jury is set aside and the case is dismissed.  An expungement relieves the defendant of certain penalties and disabilities that result from a criminal action. The arrest, prosecution and conviction records remain in the file and a notation is placed in the file that the conviction has been dismissed.  The notation in the court file, the California Department of Justice and the FBI files reflect that a plea of not guilty has been entered and the case ordered to be dismissed by the court. 

Under California law, felony convictions can be expunged as long as the defendant did not serve a state prison sentence and successfully completed the terms of probation.

Basically, the requirements for expungement are:

  • Probation must have been satisfactorily completed or, if not granted probation, one year must have passed since date of judgment.
  • All court orders must have been obeyed.
  • Defendant must have been free from subsequent offenses.
  • Defendant must be living an honest and upright life.
  • Other conditions may affect defendant's eligibility status. 

Contact an attorney about this.  Good luck.

J.M.A., Member in Good Standing of the Connecticut Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, this is the consequence of making mistakes in life and should deter people from committing crimes.  I suggest that you contact you probation officer and ask if there are employers out there that hire people with criminal records to make a transition with their life.  There are most likely groups and nonprofit companies that assit people coming out of jail or otherwise obtain jobs to get them back into the community - certainly these exist in CA.  Try going on line as well.  Once you complete your probation and this is behind you for more than 3 years, i suggest trying to get the change removed from your record - which you can do by filing certain papers (i.e. expungment).  Good luck!


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