How to Get an Expungement in California

Let’s face it, once you are convicted of a crime in California, you are stigmatized. Even if it was a misdemeanor conviction, it can haunt you for years to come.

A criminal record can make it difficult for someone to rent a house or an apartment, to obtain worthy employment, to receive a scholarship, and obtain certain professional licenses. A recent conviction can even affect family matters, such as child custody.

In light of how a criminal record can bar someone from doing many of the important things they want to do, people with convictions will often seek an expungement of their criminal records because they can improve their quality of life. What is an expungement and does it really erase a person’s criminal record for good?

What is an expungement or dismissal?

If you’re considering applying for an expungement, the first thing that we want you to understand is that if your petition is allowed under Penal Code Sec. 1203.4, it does not mean that your case is going to be “sealed.” California prosecutors and defense attorneys say that a more fitting term is a “dismissal.”

If your petition is granted, your criminal record will not be erased. The conviction will still remain on your record for specific purposes, such as immigration purposes and sex offender registration.

However, if your record is expunged or dismissed, the statute says that you would be “released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense.”

What are the eligibility requirements?

  • If you were granted probation, you must have completed all of your terms of probation and you cannot be on probation any longer,
  • You cannot be on probation for another case, and
  • You must wait one year after your conviction before you can apply for an expungement under Penal Code Sec. 1203.4a.

Was your criminal case reduced to an infraction? If your answer is “yes,” then you meet the eligibility requirements for an expungement under Sec. 1203.4a.

What are the benefits of an expungement?

There are many benefits to an expungement, which is why we encourage defendants to apply for one as soon as they meet the eligibility requirements.

When you are granted an expungement, it will show on your record as a dismissal of your case. From that point forward, you can answer most, but not all job applications, that you have not been convicted (a huge bonus), and if your conviction was for a felony, it’s the first step towards a pardon.

If you are applying for a job that involves security clearance, or a government issued permit, certificate, or license, the conviction will be discovered. If you apply for such a job, you would simply disclose the conviction and the fact that it was later expunged.

An expungement will not:

  • Remove the conviction from the FBI’s view
  • Restore your civil right to possess a firearm
  • Eliminate the requirement to register as a sex offender
  • Allow you to withhold the conviction on applications for government-issued licenses
  • Remove your case from the public’s close inspection
  • Prevent the conviction from counting as a “strike” on your record

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of an expungement, we urge you to contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. for a free consultation with an Orange County criminal lawyer.

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