According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (U.S. Department of Justice) 68 million Americans have become “criminalized” with misdemeanor, felony, or other criminal records. This criminalization of Americans could be a roadblock to living a normal and productive life. Fortunately, most states, including California, provide relief to people convicted of certain misdemeanors and felonies.
California Penal Code section 1203.4 allows people, convicted of most crimes who have completed their required probation and have not served time in state prison, to petition the court for an Expungement. One may apply for an Expungement as soon as probation is completed, including early termination of probation.
What Is An Expungement?
An Expungement in California is a post-conviction procedure by which an individual is allowed to withdraw his or her guilty plea (including a no contest plea) or have a verdict of guilty (by jury or court trial) set aside. A new not guilty plea is then entered and the case is dismissed. A copy of the signed order by the judge is forwarded to the FBI and the California Department of Justice where your criminal record will be updated. Although the arrest and conviction are not erased, there is an entry on your case docket and file that a not guilty plea was entered and the case was dismissed.
Who Is Not Eligible for an Expungement in California?
The following are instances in which someone is not eligible for an Expungement:
- You are charged with a criminal offense;
- You are serving a sentence for a criminal offense;
- You are on probation for a criminal offense;
- You served a state prison sentence on the case you are trying to expunge;
- You were convicted of sex crimes involving children, including Penal Code 286(c), Penal Code 288, Penal Code 288a(c), and Penal Code 261.5(d); or
- You were convicted of California Vehicle Code sections 42001(b) -Speeding over 100 mph; or Vehicle Code sections 2800, 2801 and 2803 which involve disobeying and evading a peace officer.
Benefits Of An Expungement
A California Expungement allows a person to be released from any and all penalties that are a direct result of the conviction. This is particularly useful for someone seeking employment, as the job markets are now more competitive than ever. As such, an employer will be more likely to consider hiring you if the conviction has been expunged and set aside. Expungements are also helpful is restoring a California professional license such as a real estate or nursing license, and obtaining student loans and renting an apartment. An Expungement gives you a fresh start and is an asset in helping you move forward with your life.
What If I Violated Or Didn’t Satisfy My Probation?
If you violated your probation, the Expungement process becomes a little more challenging, though all hope is not lost. There may be a hearing to determine whether your actions demonstrate whether you are deserving of Expungement, and a judge will consider factors such as your overall behavior while on probation, the gravity of your conviction, your criminal history, and more. These are all important in determining whether an Expungement will be granted or denied.
How Does the Expungement Process Work?
The Expungement process includes a number of important steps, which can be completed with the help of a competent Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. These steps involve analyzing the case to decide whether you are qualified for an Expungement, performing legal research regarding current law, filing the proper paperwork in a timely manner, and attending the Expungement hearing in the designated court.
What an Expungement Won’t Do
While an Expungement can help you begin a new chapter of your life, it also has several restrictions as to what it actually can do. For example, an Expungement will not allow you to restore your California gun rights; it will not suspend your duty to register as a California sex offender; or overturn a driver’s license suspension or revocation.
If My Conviction Is Expunged, How Do I Answer Job Applications About Past Convictions?
In Los Angeles, if your conviction or convictions were expunged, you can answer “No” to questions in a job interview regarding your past convictions. However, it is in your best interest to answer truthfully. The reason for that is that if an employer finds out that you lied on a job application, the employer can legally refuse to hire you. If you have already been hired and the employer does a background check and finds the conviction, the employer may terminate your employment. There is a possibility a background check used by an employer may not have included the Expungement on the report generated by the background check. Employers may focus on the conviction and may not understand what an Expungement is or what to look for on the background check The best option is to answer “Yes” about your past conviction and include that it was expunged and provide a copy of the Expungement order from the court.
Expungement Versus Sealing or Destroying Records
While they may seem similar, sealing or destroying records is completely different than having your records expunged. Your records may be sealed or destroyed under entirely unrelated settings, such as if you were falsely arrested and charges were never filed, your case was dismissed or you were acquitted by a jury.
Experienced Los Angeles Expungement Attorneys
The experienced criminal attorneys at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners have assisted hundreds of Los Angelenos clear their criminal record. We give each matter our personal attention and commitment in order to successfully expunge your criminal case.
Contact us for a free evaluation of your case by calling us at (213) 481-6811.