What is an Expungement?
"Expungement” is a term used to refer to the process of clearing your criminal record. In this process, you request that the court re-open your criminal case, withdraw the plea or guilty verdict, dismiss the charges, and re-close the case without a conviction. In effect, you are no longer a convicted person. Although the case record itself will still exist, the outcome of the case will no longer be your plea or conviction. Instead, the outcome will read as "dismissed," "dismissed pursuant to Penal Code § 1203.4," or a similar variation.
What are the benefits of an Expungement?
The benefits of an expungement are staggering, especially for individuals seeking employment. Under California Labor Code (Lab) § 432.7, employers cannot ask about arrests that did not end in conviction, convictions that have been judicially dismissed, or convictions dismissed after the completion of any diversion or similar programs. Once a conviction is expunged, it becomes an arrest that did not end in conviction. Legally, you may answer “No” to these types of questions when applying with a private employer.
However, background checks typically go back 10 years, and employers can see that you had a conviction expunged. Answering “No” may look dishonest. Accordingly, a better response may be “Yes, but it was dismissed.” In such cases, an employer will appreciate your honesty and the fact that you went through the expungement process. Additionally, certain types of employment may require that you disclose even expunged convictions.
Limitations of Expungements
Not all convictions can be expunged. Expungements are limited to cases in which the defendant was convicted of a misdemeanor (or a felony that could have been charged as a misdemeanor) and was sentenced to county jail time, probation, a fine, or a combination of those three. Additionally, the California Penal Code expressly prohibits expunging certain specified offenses. Most of these exceptions involve serious vehicle code violations (those that result in two or more points on your driving record) or sexual offenses against minors.
If you received a state prison sentence as a result of your conviction, or were convicted of a felony that cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor pursuant to Penal Code § 17(b), you will need to file for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. Certificates of Rehabilitation are granted only upon a court finding that the petitioner is rehabilitated. Generally, courts require that the petitioner not be convicted of any subsequent offenses, maintain sobriety (especially in cases involving drug/alcohol abuse) and steady employment, and exhibit otherwise good moral character for a specified rehabilitation period.
Expunge Your Criminal Record Now
If you or a loved one need an expungement or certificate of rehabilitation in Temecula, Murrieta, Wildomar, Menifee, Lake Elsinore, Hemet, Banning, Corona or Riverside, you need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call me or use the contact form below for a free case evaluation.