COURT WATCH: Delay in Expungement Motion Decision Impacts Accused’s Job Search 

By Sarah Chayet and Ella Rindt

MODESTO, CA – A Stanislaus County Superior Court judge this week acknowledged a hearing delay would potentially impact the accused’s ability to work, but ruled the accused would have to wait three months anyway for a decision.

The defense was prepared to proceed with the expungement motion that would have dismissed the accused’s charges from his record. However, the prosecution resubmitted its opposition to the motion.

The accused has a misdemeanor charge which was previously converted from a felony charge. 

“Why would we grant this when there is like zero compliance with the terms of probation?” Judge Saul Garcia asked the defense. 

“(The accused) has brought a lot of evidence that he has complied with the probation terms,” said the defense, emphasizing the efforts made by the accused to fulfill the requirements, including attending classes and volunteering, indicating an effort towards rehabilitation.

“He’s done several classes while he’s been in custody, including a domestic violence class, which he has a certificate for (attending).” 

“He brought proof that he’s enrolled in the non-profit locally, LearningQuest, to obtain employment. He’s been with them for at least nine months, it sounds like…(since) December ‘22. On top of that, he’s got several letters from the Salvation Army indicating he’s done volunteer work,” the defense noted.

“(The accused) has indicated he’d like the court to inspect these documents, if the court is so inclined,” said the defense. “It sounds like (the accused) is seeking (expungement) because his employment prospects have been hampered, as he’s found out through LearningQuest.”

“I would just highlight for the court that both LearningQuest and the Salvation Army documents indicate he’s been a positive contributor to both programs,” added the defense. “It looks like he took more classes than required in efforts to rehabilitate himself.”

The accused reportedly did more than 380 hours of volunteer work and took extra rehabilitation classes which the defense recognized as exceeding his probation requirements. 

“Looking at the three prongs, one being successfully complete probation, which we don’t have, and then three being interest of justice, which is more discretionary than the other two,” said Judge Garcia. 

Judge Garcia indicated the decision on whether to grant the expungement motion involves weighing these factors, and in this case, the absence of a completed probation is a significant consideration. 

“This is the first chance I’ve gotten to review them,” said Judge Garcia about the documents the defense provided to the court during the hearing.

“The other area of concern is how recent this was,” said Judge Garcia. “If this all happened five or six years ago, there would be something else. But we’re looking at a situation (from) October of 2022…he got out last year. So we’ve got a year and some change where he’s done really well, and I commend him for that,” said Judge Garcia.

The judge added his reluctance to outright deny the expungement motion despite the absence of a completed probation and the recentness of the sanction, noting, “But based on the recency of the sanction, the fact that there is no successful completion…I don’t wanna deny the motion because I don’t want there to be prejudice in a future application.”

“I think I would feel better if some time passed, not a lot…I don’t wanna rule on the motion today. What I would like to do is put it over for consideration,” said Judge Garcia, asking the defense to provide copies of the documents to the prosecution. 

Some period of time after that, the court would have another hearing that would serve as a review period, said the judge, promising, “I will grant the motion at that time.” 

The defense and the accused agreed to Judge Garcia’s condition of waiting three months to decide on the motion, on July 9.

“If you stay on track with what you’ve been doing…unless there’s a really strong objection next time, I am inclined to grant it,” said Judge Garcia to the accused.

About The Author

I'm a recent California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo grad. I majored in English and received a minor in Studio Art. In the fall, I plans to go back to school for a master's degree in English Literature. Currently, I am a transcript editor for CalMatters, and I hope to enter the field of technical writing someday. In my freetime, I love to draw, go on roadtrips, and camp

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