I was arrested a few years ago, and I took a deal with the DA to plead to PC459, First degree Burglary, in Santa Barbara, CA. I believe that brings a strike as well. Although I was put on home monitoring for 90 days, and was given formal probation for 3 years. I lived in Los Angeles to they transferred my probation to Los Angeles County. I never actually saw a probation officer, but I checked in monthly, and 3 years later they said I was done. I never had any issues during the span of my probation. I'm so confused. I thought if you get convicted of First Degree burglary you go to jail hands down for a period of time. I obviously do not want to be a Felon, I made a dumb choice when I was younger, and paid dearly because of who I was with. Is there anyway I can have this dropped to a misdemeanor and then dismissed? I know First Degree Burglary is not a Wobbler, I've done a ton of research. But what I'm confused about, if I was truly punished for a First Degree Burglary charge, I would not have received 90 days on house arrest and 3 years probation? I'm so confused, what can I do. I don't want to be branded with stigma because of 1 dumb choice I made. I don't want to have this expunged. I do not want to be a Felon. I want it dropped down to a Misdemeanor. Is this a possibility in California? Or am I not providing enough facts? Please help.
3 Answers from Attorneys
As you indicated, you already know first degree burglary is not a wobbler and is a straight felony, so it cannot be reduced. Just because the punishment could have been up to 6 years in prison, you can also get probation on most cases, including strikes. That's what happened to you - you got placed on probation and got time in county jail.
You're eligible for the dismissal under 1203.4 - commonly called an expungement. If granted, it doesn't take it off your record. It will still remain, just with a notation that it was subsequently dismissed. It will allow you to tell most private employers that you have not been convicted of the crime, but it can still be used as a strike and prior conviction in the future, should you be arrested and charged.
Is there anything to do? Potentially, but it will take an attorney with substantial experience in post-conviction relief. There may (note I said *may*) be ways to withdraw or vacate your plea or otherwise attack the underlying conviction that would provide greater relief. That goes way beyond just an internet posting question and answer. You'd have to get all the documents connected to your case and sit down face to face with an attorney to discuss your options.
There is also the option of a certificate of rehabilitation and a governor's pardon. Again - all things to discuss face to face in your consultation.
I agree with Mr. Dane. However, I urge you to immediately get the case "expunged." It will leave a few restrictions on you but you will be able to tell most employers that you do not have a felony record. You should see a lawyer immediately or talk to the Probation Department in Santa Barbara County. Among the benefits is that you will no longer be a "convicted felon."
If you did not serve time in the State Prison, you are eligible to petition to have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor and dismissed. Take a look at this page: http://www.courts.ca.gov/1070.htm
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