California Expungement Services

California expungement, record sealing, and other post-conviction relief proceedings can be complicated depending on the facts of the original case and if the District Attorney objects.

Expungement, which is often called a 1203.4 Dismissal, is a form of post-conviction relief that is initiated by the filing of a motion with the court that convicted the person. The motion asks the judge to reopen the case, review the content of the motion— as well as any evidence that is submitted, and take away the finding of guilt and dismiss the court case.

Expungement

If you received probation, you are most likely eligible for an expungement. This is true if your offense was a misdemeanor or a felony.  DUI convictions are also eligible for expungement.

Felony Expungement

As mentioned above, if you have a case that resulted in a felony conviction, for which you were sentenced to probation, the best option is usually an expungement. However, if the felony resulted in time served in state prison, expungement is not an option, but you could be eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation

Certificate of Rehabilitation

If the case was a felony that resulted in time being served in state prison, a Certificate of Rehabilitation, pursuant to Penal Code 4851, will likely be an option. Obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation will create an automatic application for a pardon from the governor, and open you up to potential professional licenses that were previously unavailable.

Felony Reduction

If you have a felony on your record, you could be able to get that case reduced to a misdemeanor on your record. Many felony cases that ended in probation can be reduced to misdemeanors pursuant to Penal Code section 17(B). Reducing a felony to a misdemeanor restores firearm rights that were lost because of that conviction.

Probation Termination

If a person is still on probation, it is possible to return to court and ask the judge to end the probation sentence. Once the probation is terminated, the person can usually request that the record be expunged.

Arrest Sealing

If you were arrested in California and the arrest did not result in a conviction or some form of diversion program, then your arrest is probably eligible for an arrest record sealing pursuant to Penal Code section 851.8. To get an arrest record sealed, the judge must find that “no reasonable cause exists to believe that the arrestee committed the offense for which the arrest was made.”

Additional Sealing Services

  • Drug diversion sealing is available if you were involved in a drug diversion program that was successfully completed.
  • Juvenile record sealing may be available if the record was from when you were under eighteen years old.
  • Juvenile set aside is available for many who were sentenced to and honorably discharged from the California Youth Authority (CYA).

If you need further assistance with this or any other legal issue, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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Here is the Appellate Decision on Wells Fargo Inspection Case

8th Circ. Affirms $8.6M Fees Grant In $26M Wells Fargo Deal

by Suevon Lee …The Eighth Circuit on Thursday affirmed the awarding of $8.6 million in attorneys’ fees to class counsel arising out of a $25.7 million settlement with Wells Fargo in December 2015 over the bank’s policy of ordering property inspections, saying the fee grant was not unreasonable.
A three-judge panel ruled on an appeal brought by three objectors to the class settlement who claimed the district court abused its discretion in calculating attorneys’ fees based on one-third of the gross settlement amount, rather than the lower net settlement fund, which deducts costs and settlement administration fees.

The chosen method of calculation, the objectors contend, resulted in the class receiving more than $1 million less than it otherwise would have, with the remainder primarily benefitting lawyers and Wells Fargo.

The appeals court, however, disagreed with that assessment, saying the trial court was not out of bounds in arriving at the fees amount based on the nature of the litigation and that, besides, the amount and its proportion to the settlement are in line with other awards in the circuit.

“Because the amount of attorneys’ fees was not unreasonable, we conclude that the court did not abuse its discretion,” wrote Judge Raymond W. Gruender for the panel.

The appeal comes out of the seven-year case involving Wells Fargo and its policy of ordering and charging for automatic property inspections on delinquent homeowners behind in mortgage payments. The class claimed that Wells Fargo violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act through this policy.

In December 2015, seven years after the case was filed, the class and the bank reached a $25.7 million settlement believed to impact about 2.7 million homeowners affected by Wells Fargo’s policy.

After class counsel requested one-third of the total settlement fund in attorneys’ fees, three class members filed objections based on the method of calculation.

U.S. District Judge Robert W. Pratt granted final approval of the settlement, including of the $8.6 million in fees, without addressing the objections. That prompted the objectors’ appeal to the Eighth Circuit, led by Steven Buckley.

In his appellate brief, Buckley pointed out that the administration costs were “not negligible,” at $3.25 million. He argued that a more proper valuation of attorneys’ fees would have been to base the percentage off the net fund, to reach a figure of $7.4 million.

But Thursday’s panel said Buckley and fellow objectors Jennifer Deachin and Julius Dunmore Jr. failed to show that this $3.25 million in costs were “unjustifiable.”

It also agreed with the district judge that a one-third cut of fees overall was appropriate, based on time and work required, inability of plaintiffs’ counsel to do other work while involved in this case, the contingent nature of the fee, results obtained and experience and ability of the attorneys.

Plus, the award is “in line with other awards in the Eighth Circuit,” the panel wrote, saying the courts have often awarded attorneys’ fees rising up to 36 percent in class actions.

An attorney for the objectors and a representative for the class didn’t immediately return a request for comment on Thursday.

Circuit Judges Lavenski R. Smith, Raymond W. Gruender and Bobby E. Shepherd sat on the panel. …

The case is Edward Huyer et al. v. Steven Buckley, case number 16-1681, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

 

Note from Linda Fessler: The case can be appealed to a higher court. It remains to be seen if it will be appealed.

 

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Feds sue TCF National Bank for overdraft fee policy

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has filed a lawsuit against TCF National Bank, alleging it tricked customers into agreeing to pay overdraft fees.

Under recent law, a bank cannot charge overdraft fees on debit purchases or ATM withdrawals unless the customer specifically agrees.

Until a recent change in the law, banks would cover the purchase but assess an overdraft fee for each transaction. The customer would not know that they were overdrawn, until it was too late.

Banks said that they were providing their customers a short-term loan. But customers said that they would rather have their purchase be declined and not have to pay a fee.

So the new law allows banks to charge the overdraft fees if the client agrees in advance. However, TCF National Bank, it is alleged, designed its application process to make it appear that customers had to accept “overdraft protection” when they opened their accounts.

“Today we are suing TCF for tricking consumers into costly overdraft services in order to preserve its bottom line,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray.” The suit asks for compensation for affected customers, a civil money penalty and an injunction to prevent future violations.

The normal procedure when customers make a debit card purchase for which there is not enough money in their account is for the sale to be declined. That alerts the customer, and avoids expensive fees.

It should be noted the law on overdraft fees applies only to debit cards. It does not include checks.

It should also be noted that President Trump is not a fan of the CFPB or its Director Cordray. So in the future these customer protections may no longer exist. The banks will be allowed to do whatever they please to their customers. So much for “draining the swamp”.

If you need further info on this or any other legal matter, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.
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Johnson and Johnson–A NAME YOU CANNOT TRUST

Large Verdicts in Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Lawsuits

Johnson and Johnson (J&J) will pay close to $200 million in damages to three women who developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder for feminine hygiene for decades. These awards included punitive damages of more than $50 million. J&J is still selling the deadly powder without a warning label. It knew about the risks as far back as the 1970’s.

There are about 2,000 ovarian cancer claims pending against J&J.

J&J Hid the Risk

At one trial internal J&J documents showed that the company knew about the risk and intentionally hid the risk. J&J promoted its talcum powder products specifically for feminine hygiene knowing it could cause cancer.

Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate victims for their economic and non-economic damages. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the bad guy.

With the huge verdicts, J&J will have to consider paying victims substantial amounts in settlements.

If you or someone you know has developed ovarian cancer after regular use of baby powder or Shower to Shower for feminine hygiene, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

 

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Monster Energy Drink Sued for Death of 19-Year Old

Monster Energy Drink killed a teenager, alleges his father’s lawsuit.

Dustin Hood drank three and one-half 24-ounce cans of the buzz drink within a 24-hour period.  According to the lawsuit, after he drank the last can, he played basketball and collapsed on the concrete court.  He was rushed to the hospital where he died a short time later.

According to the lawsuit, the nineteen year old died of cardiac arrhythmia … triggered by a caffeine overload.  The suit claims that three and one-half cans of Monster has the equivalent caffeine of 14, 12 ounce cans of Coke.

The suit notes others have suffered cardiac arrest following the “acute consumption” of Monster Energy Drinks.

If you need further info about this or any other legal matter, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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New York Attorney General probing reverse mortgages at Treasury nominee Mnuchin’s ex-bank

The New York attorney general’s office is investigating reverse-mortgage servicing companies. This includes a unit of the bank Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin ran. Financial Freedom, a unit of OneWest bank, is being probed over complaints it deliberately targeted seniors with dementia and other memory-loss related issues.

Champion Mortgage, a unit of Nationstar Mortgage, is also under scrutiny over some aggressive practices.

OneWest was created from IndyMac Bank, a failed California mortgage lender, during the housing collapse. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker, put together an investor group to buy the deeply discounted assets from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

OneWest, which became Southern California’s largest bank, was sold to CIT Group.

Financial Freedom and Champion are accused of withholding documents from reverse mortgage holders and aggressive tactics.

In some cases, a senior may have missed a single property tax payment that the company would use to initiate foreclosure.

Nationstar also has come under the scrutiny of the state’s financial services regulator over its mortgage servicing.

The New York attorney general’s probe was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

If you need further info about this or any other legal matter, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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Who is Liable in a Commercial Truck Crash?

Semi’s or 18 wheelers, are large vehicles that create dangerous situations for other motorists. When a commercial truck crashes, it can cause a tremendous amount of damage to other vehicles and injuries to other motorists and passengers. While truck drivers can be at fault, the legal responsibility is not always solely with the driver.

“Respondeat Superior”

Often the party found to be liable is the company that hired the truck driver. In personal injury law, there is a principle known as “respondeat superior”. Basically, it means that the person who placed the negligent driver behind the wheel, should take the responsibility for the damage caused by that person.

For example, if a company hired a driver who had a history of accidents, in most cases, that company would be liable for a crash. In most states, you must prove that the driver was working on company time when the crash occurred.

The Truck Manufacturer

If the accident was caused by a truck malfunction, it would be the truck manufacturer or parts maker that could be held liable.

A truck accident could be caused by one of a wide variety of defects, the usual causes are:

  • Faulty straps or other form of cargo restraint
  • Broken hydraulics
  • Broken headlights, brake lights, or turn signals
  • Defective anti-lock braking system
  • Defective hitches
  • Brake failure
  • Defective tires
  • Malfunctioning steering.

Negligent Driver

The driver of the truck is likely to take some part of responsibility for an accident.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers of large trucks in 2014 had a higher rate of accidents (14 percent), than any other type of driver. Truck drivers are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. These regulations mandate that drivers must:

  • Have a valid commercial vehicle driver’s license
  • Test negative on all drug and alcohol tests
  • Pass annual driving reviews
  • Conduct basic inspection of the vehicle before driving
  • Keep a log of how many hours of sleep they receive each night on the road

If a truck driver is involved in an accident and does not pass any of these tests then he will, in most cases, be held liable for a crash.

 

If you need further info about this or any other legal matter, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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Injuries to a passenger in a car that was hit by a drunk driver?

A drunk driver is much more likely to be in a car crash, and those crashes often result in injuries and death to passengers.

Criminal convictions will not fully compensate victims who were injured.

Proving negligence

Negligence per se can occur when a person is guilty of  drunk driving.  In California, for purposes of showing negligence per se, section 669 of the California Evidence Code requires proof of the following three elements:

  • The defendant violated a statute or ordinance
  • That violation was the proximate cause of the claimant’s injury
  • The statute or ordinance (drunk driving) was designed to protect the public from that kind of occurrence

When a drunk driver’s violation of a statute or ordinance proximately causes injury, negligence per se can be established.

Civil courts allow victims to seek damages against drunk drivers. Those damages might consist of:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Past and future lost earnings
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Permanent disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of a normal life
  • Funeral costs in the event of a wrongful death

Punitive damages awarded to passengers

The victim might seek punitive damages from the drunk driver. In California an injured person is allowed to seek punitive damages from a drunk driver. The purpose of those punitive damages is to deter others from drunk driving. Insurance companies do not pay punitive damages awards. The victim would need to collect those damages directly from the drunk driver.

If you need additional info, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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California Citibank Mortgage Force-Placed Insurance Investigation

A lawsuit investigation has been launched of Citibank Mortgage into what seems to be an industry-wide practice of banks and lenders overcharging California homeowners for “force-placed insurance”.

Force-placed insurance is flood, homeowners, or other type of insurance imposed by the mortgage company if a homeowner’s own insurance policy lapses. Force-placed insurance is not illegal, but several lenders allegedly overcharge for the insurance policies in exchange for kickbacks.

Mortgage holders are required to maintain home hazard insurance to protect the property in the event of a disaster. This insurance often includes flood insurance, earthquake insurance, and other types of disaster insurance.

Force-placed insurance, also known as lender-placed insurance, is a home or flood insurance policy placed by a lender or bank in the event that the hazard insurance policy is cancelled, has lapsed, or is deemed insufficient.

This has allegedly led to widespread abuses against consumers, including agreements that prevent banks from issuing policies with competitors. The insurer then takes a portion of the homeowners’ premium and gives it to the bank as a “kickback”.

This can result in homeowners paying far more for the force-placed insurance policy than if they had purchased a policy on the open market.

Furthermore, force-placed insurance has sometimes been billed to homeowners retroactively. In other words, homeowners were billed for property insurance during the period of time that their previous policy had lapsed, in addition to being billed for a new policy. There have been reports that homeowners have been billed for force-placed insurance even though they already have a home insurance policy.

If you need information on this or any other legal issue, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

 

 

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Fidelity National Unit Nears Settlement Over Robo-Signing Allegations

 

A Fidelity National Financial Inc. subsidiary is in talks to pay as much as $65 million to resolve government accusations that it contributed to fraudulent foreclosures after the 2008 credit crisis. LPS, which provided technology and services to lenders such as Wells Fargo & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., has faced accusations that it filed fraudulent documents used in the repossession of homes. Fidelity National’s Service Link subsidiary is responsible for the new settlement. Service Link has been negotiating with regulators over a probable penalty. Wells Fargo paid $70 million in a similar agreement this year.

Before Fidelity National acquired the Florida-based company in 2014, LPS had already settled with dozens of states for $127 million. It paid another $35 million to settle a Justice Department inquiry in which it was said to have been involved in a “six-year scheme to prepare and file more than 1 million fraudulently signed and notarized mortgage-related documents.”

Lorraine Brown, former chief executive officer of LPS’s DocX LLC subsidiary, spent more than three years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Brown, who was released on parole Aug. 31, had been accused by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette of establishing “a widespread scheme of ‘robo-signing,’ a practice in which employees were directed to fraudulently sign another authorized person’s name on mortgage documents in order to execute these documents as quickly as possible.”

 

If you need additional info about this or any other legal matter, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

 

 

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