Must a Judge Grant Your Expungement Request?

Many people ask if a Judge has to grant your petition for an expungement. The answer is not simple. The law says that a Judge "shall" grant your request. Pursuant to People v Johnson (1955), the word "shall" is, in fact, mandatory. However, if you served time in State Prison or your crime in on the exclusion list, i.e. Penal Code section 288, the Judge will deny your request. As such, if you have not been arrested during your probation, not picked up any new cases, and was not violated, the Judge MUST grant your petition request. (Unless your charge was a DUI, sex crime or you did custody time in State Prison). Another interesting case also states that the seriousness of the defendant's offenses are irrelevant to one's right to have the expungement granted upon early discharge from probation. People v Hawley (App 1 Dist 1991) 228 Cal.App.3d 247).