While a misdemeanor record may seem like the lesser of evils at the time, having it on your record can have life-altering consequences. The misdemeanor may stay on your criminal record for a set time period, depending on the nature of the offence, since different charges carry different timelines—usually between five to seven years. A Record Expungement Attorney can help navigate the process of having your records expunged in order to avoid the implications of a criminal record on:
- employment applications
- college applications
- house rental
- and insurance applications.
An attorney who specializes in record expungements will know whether your record has a good chance of being removed, and how long you should wait before applying for expungement. In some cases, a misdemeanor requires a presidential pardon in order to be removed from your record.
In extremely rare cases, a misdemeanor may be added to your record by mistake. For instance, a clerk may erroneously record a misdemeanor even if you were not convicted, or if the complaint was dismissed before the case went to trial. If your lawyer can demonstrate that you were not charged with the misdemeanor, the record may be expunged.
Record expungement gives you the freedom to legally state—on application forms and other documents—that you have never been convicted. It is important to note that expunged records may be unsealed if you commit another crime. Government agencies and law enforcement agencies will be able to see expunged records that are not public record.
Some important facts to consider about expungement include:
- Arrest records and charges will remain on the record.
- Expungement will not overturn the driver's license revocation resulting from DUI offenses.
- Courts may still use expunged convictions as priors.
After such a timeline has expired, it may be removed from your record in some cases. However, some misdemeanors may not be expunged from your record. You may speak to the authorities about how long an offense will stay on your record.
In some cases, offenses may remain on your permanent record even after it has been removed from the public domain. Records of the offense may remain on your permanent record even if the conviction has been set aside.
RECORD EXPUNGEMENT: FELONIES VS. MISDEMEANORS
Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, and that's what separate the two types of offenses. Felonies usually result in imprisonment in state facilities, while charges for misdemeanors may include:
- county jail time
- local jail time
- or fines.
The maximum jail time for a misdemeanor in most states is twelve months, and you can request expungement depending on the prescribed time frame. In some cases, it may be possible to have misdemeanors expunged from your record in one year, while a first offense DUI may remain on your record for a minimum of seven years before authorities will consider sealing or expunging the records.
Most states are lenient towards offenders under the age of eighteen. As such, your age at the time you committed the offense will have bearing on whether the misdemeanor may be expunged or not.
RECORD EXPUNGEMENT PENAL CODES
California has many record expungement laws. These are some of the relevant penal codes your lawyer may use when working on record expungement on your behalf.
California Penal Code 1203.4—At the foundation of expungement law, this penal code allows individuals with prior convictions to petition the California court to expunge their misdemeanors, infractions, and felonies. This penal code determines that once a defendant has completed probation or other punishment, the court has the discretion to grant relief under the code.
California Penal Code 1203.3—This penal code deals with the early termination of probation in California, and it gives the courts authority to modify or revoke orders of suspension or the execution of a sentence. If the court finds that a person's conduct or reform warrants it, the court may terminate the probation period, and possibly discharge it, subject to a range of criteria, including the court's authority.
California Penal Code 17(B)—This penal code deals with expungement of records in wobbler offenses. Your Record Expungement Attorney will file a petition to reduce your felony charge under this penal code if your felony was a wobbler. If the clerk who filed the petition was unaware of the law, they may have failed to reduce the expungement. Your attorney can still assist with that.
California Penal Code 851.8—California arrest record sealing law is addressed in this penal code. If law enforcement arrested you but failed to file an accusatory pleading, you may petition to have the records destroyed. With the help of a record expungement attorney, you can petition the law enforcement agency to destroy both the arrest record and petition for three years following the date of arrest after which you have been found factually innocent. The specific law enforcement agency must notify the Department of Justice and any other parties involved and they must then seal their records. Once three years have expired from the arrest date, the law enforcement agency and the Department of Justice must request that any person, entity, federal, state or local agency that is in possession of such records, destroy it.
California Penal Code 4852.01—This law allows you to petition for a certificate of rehabilitation after you have served time in a state prison. If you have been convicted of a felony and have subsequently been released from any state penal institution or prison in California after completing the term of your sentence, and have not been incarcerated in any other state facility since your release, and you can show satisfactory evidence of having been a resident of California for three years prior to the petition and pardon, you may file a petition for rehabilitation. Other provisions and conditions apply to this law, and in some extraordinary cases the Governor will have the right to pardon a person who was convicted of violating a subdivision.
California Assembly Bill 2582—The California Infraction Expungement law was passed in 2011 and extends the relief offered by Penal Code 1203.4 to criminal infractions. However, it does not include traffic related infractions. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor and not granted probation, you may be permitted to withdraw your guilty plea or nolo contendere and enter a not guilty plea. Under specified conditions, the court shall dismiss the accusatory pleading. The court may also set aside guilty verdicts against you after the trial and release you from disabilities or penalties that result from the offense. This means that if you have been convicted of infractions that are not motor vehicle related, you may seek to have the charges against your dismissed and to be released from the penalties of the offenses.
Welfare and Institutions Code 781—This penal code deals with sealing juvenile records. Once a defendant reaches the age of eighteen or five years after a brush with a juvenile court, a petition can be filed to have records expunged. Certain offenses are not open to expungement once the person is fourteen or older. If the court grants the expungement of records, it will deem that the case has never occurred and the defendant may respond accordingly when there is an inquiry about the events for which records are sealed. All officials named in the case as well as those who direct agencies shall be informed to seal their records and a copy of the court order. The defendant may petition the superior court for permission to inspect the records, but it may not be inspected otherwise.
Welfare And Institutions Code 1772—The California Juvenile Record Expungement Law permits individuals who went to juvenile prison (California Juvenile Youth Authority) but are not eligible for relief under Penal Code 781, to petition for expungement of their records for underlying juvenile offenses to be expunged after being honorably discharged by the Youth Authority Board. If granted, this petition will release you from penalties resulting from the offense, including being disqualified from employment or an occupational license. However, it will prohibit you from obtaining employment in a public agency or as a peace officer within five years.
Welfare and Institutions Code 707(B)—Individuals who were in juvenile prison (Juvenile Youth Authority) who do not qualify for relief under Welfare and Institutions Code 781 due to the nature of their offenses, may petition the court to expunge their juvenile offenses. Individuals who have committed heinous crimes such as murder or attempted murder, arson, robbery, rape, kidnapping, assault, and related crimes may not have their records expunged.
California Proposition 36—Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act Of 2000, provides for mandatory drug treatment and probation instead of incarceration for some non-violent drug-related offenses. It also makes expungement relief an option since it helps avoid state prison sentencing.
California Penal Code 1000—California's California Deferred Judgement or diversion law mandates that some drug related offenses be diverted rather than convicted. Once a person has successfully completed their PC 1000 diversion program, the case should be dismissed without any conviction, which means that there is no need for expungement of records.
PROCESS FOR EXPUNGEMENT OF CRIMINAL RECORDS IN CALIFORNIA
It is not unusual for an individual who has been convicted of any misdemeanor in California to be concerned about how their criminal record may affect their future. Potential employers and property owners frequently check individuals' criminal records, which could cause difficulty in finding employment or renting property. However, California's Penal Code 1203.4 provides for the expungement of your records.
You can use this process to petition the court to:
- reopen your criminal case
- dismiss the conviction
- close the case.
Having a misdemeanor offense expunged from your criminal record will allow you to seek employment, exploit opportunities and live your life. California Penal Code contains the requirements for expunging misdemeanor records under sections 1203.4 and 1203.4a. Serious vehicle code violations and sex offenses against children may not be expunged, and neither can time served in California state prison due to court sentences or probation violations. You must apply for a Governor's pardon or certificate of rehabilitation if any of the non-expungable limitations apply to you.
You will need to obtain a copy of your criminal record from the court or from the Department of Justice. A Record Expungement Attorney can help you obtain that, and submit your Petition for Dismissal Judicial Council form (form CR-180).
By submitting declaration form MC-030, you can explain your situation and the reason for requesting expungement. You must be able to demonstrate that you have fully complied with your sentence, and that you are not currently charged with or serving another sentence, and that it has been at least one year since the court entered judgment in the case.
Record expungement filing fees range from $60-$120. However, your attorney can assist in having the fee waived by completing Form FW-001—Waive Court Fees Form.
Once your records have been expunged, employers who perform a standard background check should not see the conviction. However, if you submit a copy of your California Department of Justice report and fingerprints, it will show that there was a case, but that it was dismissed. It will show no conviction on your record.
HELP WITH RECORD EXPUNGEMENT
If you're concerned about California's tough laws and how a misdemeanor conviction may impact on your employment, housing and other parts of your life, you may consider having the conviction expunged from your record.
Record Expungement Attorney in San Bernardino has a very high success rate of granted petitions. Let us help you petition for your misdemeanor conviction to be expunged from your record. If you believe that you are eligible for record expungement, or if you want us to assess your case, please call our offices at 909-965-4033. One of our attorneys will sit with you and consider the details of your case and recommend a way forward. If you decide to proceed, we will take care of all the details to help provide you with a new lease on life.