A misdemeanor or felony conviction in California can bring with it many harsh and more subtle consequences. You may only suffer the ill effects when you apply for a job, housing, state licensing and other benefits. If old California arrest records are keeping you from being hired for a good position in which you can earn more money, or causing you embarrassment, you may want to speak to a Record Expungement Attorney in San Bernardino, CA about having your records expunged. Expungement offers an opportunity to start afresh.
WHY EXPUNGEMENT IN CALIFORNIA?
If you are eligible for criminal record expungement or sealing, this is a great opportunity to start over. Expungement will eliminate records of your:
- and convictions.
Expungement may even help if you get into legal trouble in the future. However, the requirements and process can be tricky and cumbersome, which is why we have put together information on how you can erase your criminal history from databases in California.
You may be wondering why you should bother with expungement, and the answer is simple: It offers you an opportunity to turn over a new leaf with a clean record. There are several benefits to expungement, apart from personal satisfaction, namely:
Expungement can help improve your employment outlooks. A clear criminal record can help you find a job, or obtain a better job or even a promotion at your current employer. These days, both private and public employers perform thorough background checks before they hire anyone. Many discriminate against people who have blemishes on their criminal records. However, if your convictions have been expunged from your criminal record, you can truthfully answer that you have not been convicted of a crime when a future employer inquires about it. But it doesn't only help with future employment. Your current employer cannot fire you because of an expunged conviction. As such, expungement provides added protection.
Expungement can help advance your professional outlook by enabling you to obtain a state license. If you work as a real estate broker, accountant, bartender, teacher, cosmetologist, EMT, contractor, registered nurse or any one of the many professions that require state licensing, your criminal conviction may result in having your application declined. While you can deny that you have been convicted on job applications, you must disclose the fact that you have a conviction on a state license application. However, expungement will show the licensing agency that you have taken the initiative to have your convictions cleared up, as is expected of a law-abiding citizen.
Expungement can help you become eligible for student loans. Did you know that a minor drug offense can stand in your way of obtaining student loans, grants and other forms of student aid? In some cases, expungement can help clear your name and enhance your eligibility for student loans after drug convictions.
Expungement can help you find a great home. Property owners and managers review criminal records before approving an individual for a home lease. Nobody wants trouble with tenants, and they presume that someone with a criminal conviction is less likely to abide by the law. This can be particularly tricky when you try to rent a home in a multi-family property cluster. However, having your records expunged can go a long way to show that you are committed to turning your life around.
Expungement can help the court to perceive you as a credible witness if ever you are called to testify in someone else's case. Your expunged conviction cannot be used to portray you as an untrustworthy witness.
EXPUNGEMENT PROCESS: STEP BY STEP
For best results with your expungement, it is important to work with an attorney who has experience with expungement and record sealing. The process below provides a general breakdown of the steps that would need to be completed for your record to be expunged. However, because the circumstances differ for each case, it is best to find qualified, experienced legal representation from an attorney who can act in your best interests based on your specific requirements.
Step 1: Obtain a copy of your criminal records
You first have to know what's on your record before you can apply to have it expunged. You should have received court papers when you were convicted, and that should contain the information that will be on your record. If you no longer have those copies, you may request a copy from the county's Superior Court for an order of judgment. Alternatively, the Criminal Record Review Unit of the California State Department of Justice will be able to provide information regarding your criminal records from any county in California.
If your case is older than ten years, you will definitely have to obtain your records from the Review Unit. You can contact them via their website, or telephonically on (916) 227-3400, or your attorney can handle the case from start to finish.
Step 2: Ensure you have the required information
Your criminal record should contain all the information you need to submit the petition for expungement. This is what is required:
- Date of plea or conviction
- Docket number
- Code and section of the violation
- Plea or verdict
- Terms and length of probation, as well as type (informal or formal)
- Restitution, fines, or reimbursement imposed (if applicable)
- Prison sentence and release date (if applicable)
- End of parole date (if applicable)
Step 3: Determine eligibility for dismissal
If you are still on parole after serving a sentence in state prison, you may not petition the court for dismissal. Likewise, sex offenses and certain code violations will render you ineligible for expungement.
If you were not sentenced to probation, or if you have completed your probation for a misdemeanor conviction, you may be eligible for expungement. If you are currently still on probation for a misdemeanor, your attorney may be able to petition for an early termination of your probation under PC 1203.3(a).
You will not be eligible for expungement if you have been convicted of a felony. However, your attorney may petition the court under PC 18(b) to have your penalty conviction reduced to a misdemeanor. At the same time, a Motion to Terminate Probation will be filed if you are still on probation.
If you're not eligible for expungement, you could consider obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation. Keep reading to find out more about that.
Step 4: File your Petition for Dismissal
Expungement law in California is governed by Penal Code, and more specifically, sections 1203.4 and 1203.4a. You will have to file a Petition for Dismissal form for the one that's most applicable to your case:
- 4 for cases in which probation was granted.
- 4a for cases in which probation was denied.
Costs for a PC 1203.4 or 1203.4a filing range from $60 to $120.
An expert expungement attorney can help prepare all your documents, including a fee waiver if need be. You don't need to submit a Proof of Service if your attorney files your papers with the court.
INELIGIBLE FOR EXPUNGEMENT: YOUR OPTIONS
If you are ineligible for expungement, you could obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation under PC 4852.01. This option is available if you have been convicted of a felony that saw you being committed to a state facility (prison, agency or institution).
As you can imagine, the process of obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation is quite complex, which is why you must obtain professional legal representation from a California public defender who specializes in expungement.
It is important to note that there are some special circumstances surrounding some convictions. Speak to your attorney about the laws applicable to your case:
Automatic expungement applies to marijuana possession convictions. Health and Safety PC 11361.5 and PC 11361.7 will automatically erase convictions of marijuana possession for personal use after two years. However, sales, cultivation and transportation convictions will not qualify for automatic expungement.
Juvenile convictions will go on your criminal record, but you become eligible to have your juvenile record sealed on your eighteenth birthday. However, you should note that this process is not automatic. You will have to speak to an attorney who specializes in criminal record sealing and expungement about having your records sealed so nobody can access them. Five years after the date of having your records sealed, it will be completely destroyed.
If you're seeking a fresh start, you can apply for the New Leaf Program, which is run by the Orange County Public Defender's Office. This should provide you with better employment opportunities as a result of expunged records, or—if you're eligible for expungement—a Certificate of Rehabilitation.
SEALING CRIMINAL RECORDS: AN ALTERNATIVE TO EXPUNGEMENT
If your arrest did not result in a conviction, the new California Arrest Record Equity (C.A.R.E.) Act of 2018 can help you seal dismissed arrests and criminal case records for the majority of arrests. There are three main criteria for sealing records:
- The Statute of Limitations must have expired on the offense;
- You must have escaped conviction;
- The prosecutor cannot re-file the case for whatever reason.
When you are arrested for a crime, the prosecutor has a certain offense-specific timeline within which to charge you and initiate criminal proceedings. This Statute of Limitations can range from one year for a misdemeanor to three or more years for a felony. Your lawyer can advise on the Statute of Limitations.
Criminal justice agencies can still access sealed records, but it does provide great relief because the public cannot access it.
To have records sealed for factual innocence or wrongful arrest, the following criteria must be met:
- The Statute of Limitations must have passed;
- No conviction has been entered;
- You must demonstrate factual innocence, which is done by showing that there is no reasonable cause to believe that you committed the offense for which you were arrested.
Factual innocence cannot be proven through dismissal only. In addition, your lawyer must be able to disprove a minimum of one of the offense elements through direct or indirect evidence.
Record sealing is not initiated through trial proceedings, but the process can still be complex. It still involves much arguing and collection and utilization of evidence. Without proper, expert representation, the chances of success with criminal record sealing are minimal.
It is important to note that—unlike other forms of sealing—factual innocence sealings can be filed while the statute of limitations is still in effect. The Statute of Limitations has to run its course on standard dismissals before the case sealing can be filed.
If your petition to seal your arrest record in California for factual innocence is granted, any record of your arrest that did not conclude in a conviction will be destroyed, including:
- booking photos
- arrest reports
The sealed records can be destroyed completely within three years after your arrest. Once those records are destroyed, it will be as though the arrest never occurred.
If the court ordered a drug diversion program and you have successfully completed it, your legal representative can petition for your records to be sealed. In this case, the judge may order that the arresting agency and the court seals the records, which means that only the Department of Justice will have access to your criminal record.
HELP WITH EXPUNGEMENT OF CRIMINAL RECORDS
If you have had a brush with the law and wish to have your records cleared so that you can make a fresh start and enjoy the privileges of a clean criminal record, Record Expungement Attorney in San Bernardino, CA can help you achieve your goals. We have successfully handled countless expungement cases on behalf of clients and we can help you clear your name. You have paid the penalties imposed on you by the courts and you deserve to turn over a new leaf. Let us help you clear your name. Call San Bernardino, CA Record Expungement Attorney today at 909-965-4033 to schedule an appointment, or visit our contact page for more information.