Many of us like stories about time travel, but we know that we can’t really go back and change history. Nevertheless, if you have a criminal conviction in your background, you may be eligible to “change history” and have that conviction expunged.
About 70 million people in this country have some kind of criminal record. Any criminal record can severely limit your rights – and not just the right to vote or to own a firearm, either. In some cases, a criminal record can prevent you from obtaining a driver’s license or landing a good job.
A felony or misdemeanor conviction can prevent you from obtaining a professional license, and it can also impact your credit and disqualify you from obtaining a loan and may cause you to need an Orange County criminal defense attorney.
Some of these rules and restrictions are – frankly speaking – unfair and unreasonable. If you are being consistently rejected by employers, the reason may be a criminal record. Even today, a simple misdemeanor conviction may keep you from getting hired for a better job.
IS A CRIMINAL RECORD KEEPING YOU FROM REACHING YOUR GOALS?
In fact, if you have any kind of criminal record, you may be finding that it’s a genuine impediment to your goals, whether those goals are educational, professional, or personal. Expunging that criminal record may be the way for you to open the doors to a better future.
Criminal records were always public, but the internet makes it easier than ever for prospective employers or landlords – or anyone, in fact – to conduct background checks. A prospective employer can find a criminal record easily and almost instantly.
Expungement is the way to seal many criminal records permanently from the public – from landlords, employers, and almost anyone who might be investigating your background.
WHO CAN HAVE A CRIMINAL RECORD EXPUNGED?
If you’ve ever been sent to a California prison for a criminal conviction or a violation of parole conviction, you cannot have the record of that conviction expunged. However, you have a right to expunge other California criminal records if you were convicted of a crime and:
- completed probation successfully
- are not now facing another criminal charge
- are not serving probation (or any other sentence) for another offense
WHAT WILL A JUDGE CONSIDER WHEN YOU REQUEST AN EXPUNGEMENT?
Some offenses can’t be expunged: sexual offenses against children, for example. Otherwise, you may request a hearing to show why your record should be expunged, but you’ll need the help of an Orange County criminal defense attorney. At an expungement hearing, a judge will consider:
- your overall criminal history
- the details of the record to be expunged
- your performance while on probation
- your efforts to find or keep a good job and meet your other responsibilities
For California misdemeanor convictions, if you entered a no contest or guilty plea, you may seek to expunge the conviction three years after the date that you entered the plea. Completing probation successfully is a requirement.
If you violated probation, but the probation was eventually completed, it’s still possible to have your expungement request approved. Misdemeanor offenders routinely have convictions expunged, but expunging the record of a felony conviction is a more complicated procedure.
HOW ARE FELONY CONVICTIONS EXPUNGED?
The original felony charge had to be what the law calls a ‘wobbler,” a charge that may be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Expungement of such a conviction is available only if the sentence was probation and the probation was successfully completed.
First, the conviction for the felony must be reduced to a conviction for a misdemeanor. The misdemeanor conviction may then be expunged.
Expungement allows you to tell prospective employers that you have never received a criminal conviction. The law in this state prohibits an employer or a prospective employer from using any expunged criminal conviction against you in any way.
WHAT IS YOUR ATTORNEY’S ROLE IN THE EXPUNGEMENT PROCESS?
In southern California, you’ll need to be represented by an Orange County criminal defense attorney who has considerable experience handling expungement requests.
Your attorney will review your criminal history, and if you’re eligible for expungement, he or she will explain how the procedure works and begin the process of having the record expunged.
The paperwork that an expungement entails is extensive. It has to be complete and accurate because a mistake or a misunderstanding could slow down the procedure or even cause your request for an expungement to be rejected by the court.
Do not try this on your own. Your lawyer can make certain that no errors are in the paperwork and that no needless delays are part of the process.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT A JUVENILE RECORD? OR AN ARREST RECORD?
Juvenile criminal records are not automatically sealed when someone reaches age 18, but that’s when you can seek to have a juvenile record sealed with your lawyer’s help. Sealed juvenile records in California are destroyed when five years have passed.
After an arrest, a charge may be dropped or may never be filed. If an arrest appears in your record, and if no charge was filed or there was no conviction, you can usually have the arrest record sealed and destroyed, but that doesn’t happen automatically. You’ll need a lawyer’s help.
After an arrest, if no charge was filed, you must ask the police agency that conducted the arrest to seal and destroy the record. If that agency is convinced that you were innocent, the record will be sealed and destroyed when three years have passed.
Should your request be denied, or if there is no response in sixty days, your attorney can file a motion with the court to have the arrest record sealed and destroyed.
SHOULD YOU SEEK A CERTIFICATE OF REHABILITATION?
As mentioned previously, some criminal records can’t be expunged, but for a few individuals, there’s another option. You may seek a Certificate of Rehabilitation, a court order which states that a convicted felon – or a convicted misdemeanor sex offender – has been rehabilitated.
A Certificate of Rehabilitation restores civil and political rights to convicted offenders who demonstrate rehabilitation. If a judge agrees that you qualify for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, your request is forwarded to the Governor of California for approval.
Expungement gives many convicted offenders the opportunity to move into the future positively and constructively. Use the opportunity. Don’t let an incident that occurred years ago prevent you from achieving your educational, professional, and personal goals today.
Read one of our latest blogs here: What Is The California Sexual Battery Law?