A dismissal or expungement is another term for clearing your criminal record. This is when a criminal case is reopened in order for the conviction to be dismissed. Legally speaking, when the court dismisses your conviction, the law considers it as though it never happened. The authorities will expunge your record, which means that it will show the case has been dismissed. This is great for starting your life afresh, as in most cases you can lawfully tell potential employers and landlords that you don't have a criminal record, and when they check your record, it should reflect as such.
In the past, criminal records were available to anyone who had the time and inclination to sift through millions of criminal and civil records to match them to a specific job or housing applicant. Most people could not be bothered. However, modern indexing software and a litigious society allow anyone with access to your date of birth or driver's license number to access your records in a few keystrokes. You probably already know how hard it can be to find a job; much more so if you have a criminal conviction. Thankfully, California's expungement laws are some of the most liberal in all of the U.S.
In some cases, you may not even require formal expungement, as you may be eligible to join a pre-trial diversion program, such as:
- The Adult Diversion Program (ADP)—A 4-month whereby you will not be charged for your crimes.
- Pretrial Diversion (PD)—Previously filed misdemeanors may be reduced to infractions or dismissed entirely on completion. It has similar requirements and length as regular probation.
- Deferred Entry of Judgment Program (DEJEP)—Charges of simple possession drug offenders who complete this 6-month program will typically be dismissed.
Pretrial diversion means that you don't have to apply for expungement of your convictions, however, your arrest and charging records will usually remain. Most people who check criminal records assume that charges against an applicant were dropped due to a lack of evidence. However, you may simply state that you hired a lawyer who took care of the accusations. That will typically end all inquiries.
Most Californian employers are prohibited from asking about arrests that did not result in convictions, or about convictions that were expunged. However, exceptions to this rule apply to criminal justice agencies or other jobs that require that you have access to firearms and drugs, such as police departments.
DRAWBACKS TO EXPUNGEMENT OF CRIMINAL RECORDS
It is important to note that when your criminal record is expunged as provided for in Penal Code 1203.4, that does not necessarily erase your record. While expungement offers significant benefits, it does have certain limitations.
There are some drawbacks to expungement in California that does not apply in all states that eliminate underlying records. In California, your expungement will remove most of the crippling effects of a criminal conviction, but will not apply in some cases.
Instead of erasing your criminal conviction, an expungement (or dismissal) simply updates the conviction record to reflect:
- the change from a guilty plea to not guilty, or that the guilty verdict passed down during a jury trial has been set aside;
- that your probation has been terminated;
- and that your case has been dismissed.
Background checkers will notice that you have been arrested and convicted that was expunged
Expungement does not eliminate your conviction or prevent other people or agencies from accessing it. They will still be able to see that you have had a criminal conviction, but that it was expunged.
YOU MUST DISCLOSE YOUR RECORD FOR SOME APPLICATIONS
When you apply for state licensing, run for public office, or contract with the state lottery, you are obliged to disclose your criminal convictions, even if they have been expunged. While this is a serious limitation on the criminal code, expungement is likely to stand you in good stead compared to a blotch on your record, as the board is unlikely to hold an expunged record against you.
IT MAY BE ADDED TO FUTURE CONVICTIONS
One of the major drawbacks of an expunged criminal record is that it can be held against you if you were convicted of the same or a different crime in the future. This is applicable to priorable criminal convictions. In other words, if you are convicted of another crime at some point in the future, the court may impose a stiffer sentence due to your prior record.
Priors are particularly relevant in drunk driving cases. A first time DUI conviction remains priorable for ten years. Therefore, if you are convicted of another DUI during that period, the first conviction will be revisited and added to the second, which will be counted as a second offense. You will receive a harsher punishment than usual for what will now legally become your first offense, even though the actual first conviction was expunged under Penal Code 1203.4.
YOU MAY NOT REGAIN YOUR RIGHT TO OWN A FIREARM
According to California Penal Code 29800 PC, it is illegal to possess, own, or use a firearm after a felony conviction and certain misdemeanor convictions. A Penal Code 1203.4 expungement does not remove this prohibition after certain convictions.
YOU WILL STILL HAVE TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER
Receiving a PC 1203.4 expungement will not relieve you of the duties of a convicted sex offender to register and maintain your registration on the sex offenders list. However, you may be relieved of this obligation with the help of different means, such as a governor's pardon or a certificate of rehabilitation.
YOU MAY STILL FACE IMMIGRATION CONSEQUENCES
An expungement alone will not prevent serious immigration consequences, such as inadmissibility or deportation if you are not a citizen of the U.S. Immigration courts will only acknowledge post-conviction relief if your underlying conviction can be found legally invalid.
However, in some cases, expungement applications can assist with immigration consequences resulting from a particular conviction, such as deportation and inadmissibility. One such example would be reducing your felony charge to a misdemeanor. That might change the conviction to that of an inadmissible crime, which could help prevent the loss of your immigration benefits.
IMPORTANT BENEFITS OF CRIMINAL RECORD EXPUNGEMENT
While there are some remnants left of your conviction or arrest even after expungement, it is still a beneficial step that offers many positive advantages, including the fact that it can:
- Help you to find employment;
- Assist when you need to obtain professional licenses;
- Enable you to join professional organizations;
- Prevent past convictions from being utilized to impeach your credibility during certain court proceedings; and
- Provide personal satisfaction.
HOW EXPUNGEMENT BENEFITS EMPLOYABILITY
The number one most important benefit of expungement of criminal records is the fact that it can help you when you are looking for employment after your criminal conviction.
A clean criminal record is pivotal in searching for employment. Employers do not want to run the risk of lawsuits that can arise from allowing someone with a criminal record to deal with their clients. That's why most employers in California do criminal background checks before hiring applicants. They also typically ask whether applicants have ever been convicted of crimes.
Background checks typically reveal the status of a person's:
If you receive a PC 1203.4 criminal record expungement, you can lawfully assert that you have not been convicted of a crime. Likewise, employers may not use expunged convictions as a reason to make negative employment decisions.
Additionally, the California Code of Regulations prohibits employers from questioning job applicants about expunged misdemeanor convictions. It is ambiguous with regards to expunged felony convictions.
HOW EXPUNGEMENT BENEFITS STATE LICENSE OR PUBLIC OFFICE APPLICATION
Receiving a Penal Code 1203.4 expungement of records is highly beneficial to individuals seeking to be granted state professional licenses or public office position.
If you wish to apply for a state license or wish to run for a public office position, you must still disclose your conviction and subsequent expungement in the application. This applies to licenses such as real estate or contractor’s licenses.
It is not unusual for licensing agencies to grant state licensing to individuals who have had their convictions expunged. In fact, many agencies look more favorably on applicants who have successfully completed their probation and expungement processes.
HOW EXPUNGEMENT BENEFITS YOUR ABILITY TO JOIN PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
Professional organizations typically run background checks before they will invite someone to hold a seat or position. The Penal Code 1203.4 expungement process removes the stigma of criminal conviction, which will make organizations more amenable to invite you to join them.
HOW EXPUNGEMENT BENEFITS YOUR CREDIBILITY AS A WITNESS IN COURT
While your past expunged convictions may be added to new criminal cases in which you are a defendant, expunged prior convictions may not be used to damage your credibility during court proceedings in which you are a witness.
If your criminal case contains a felony, and you are a witness during court proceedings in California, the opposition may use your felony conviction as a means to discredit you. However, they may not do so if the conviction has been expunged.
If you are sued for damages, or if someone else sues you in a civil suit in which your testimony is key to a successful outcome, this benefit of expungement is key.
HOW EXPUNGEMENT BENEFITS PERSONAL SATISFACTION
Expungement of a criminal record can bring about a great sense of relief. While a PC 1203.4 expungement will not magically erase what occurred, it will bring about some closure and redemption after an intense and frustrating period in a person's life.
EXPUNGEMENT UNDER PENAL CODE 851.8
You may be eligible for relief under PC 851.8, which seals or destroys all records of your arrest completely, if:
- lack of probable cause or lack of evidence led to a dismissal,
- no charges were filed against you after the arrest,
- the judge or a jury ruled a not-guilty verdict.
PC 851.8 petitions are procedurally based on pretrial dismissal, and the burden of proof lies with the defendants. A strict two-year time limit typically applies to these cases and identifying all agencies with access to your records in order to have them destroyed. The procedure differs somewhat in juvenile matters.
When it comes to navigating the complex legal system, it is best to speak to an experienced Record Expungement Attorney who can assess the specifics of your case in order to obtain the best possible representation. Each case has its own individual characteristics, and therefore requires individual attention and thoughtful assessment. Based on the details of your case, your attorney will build an effective petition to help free you from the negative, limiting effects of a criminal conviction, and help you regain your freedom.
HELP WITH CRIMINAL RECORD EXPUNGEMENT
The California legal system is innately complex, as it involves criminal law, expungement law, as well as federal immigration law. Record Expungement Attorney operates from San Bernardino and has helped clients from San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, Riverside, Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, Ventura, Orange County, Long Beach, Pasadena, San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles. If you need assistance with your PC 1203.4 expungement, we invite you to get in touch with us for case specific information on how we can help you obtain expungement of your criminal records.
If you or a loved one needs help with expungement of criminal records, and you are looking to obtain legal representation, we invite you to get in touch with Record Expungement Attorney. Call us to schedule a consultation and speak to us about case assessment. We routines handle San Bernardino expungement of criminal records on behalf of our clients.
Let Record Expungement Attorney provide you with the best possible representation in order to eliminate or at least reduce the long term negative consequences of past criminal convictions. We specialize in record clearing law in California. Our experienced, knowledgeable attorneys are standing by to handle your case and are committed to clearing your record. Call us today at 909-965-4033.