Being convicted of a crime can make it difficult to resume to your normal life. Most employers conduct background checks as the basis to eliminate job applicants who have criminal convictions on their record. In today’s uncertain economic times, where finding a job is harder than it’s ever been, you want to do everything in your power to be the most desirable applicant. This includes being in a position to confidently state that you have a clean criminal record, something that you may be able to do with a Penal Code 1203.4 expungement. If you’ve ever been convicted of a crime, having your criminal records expunged is undoubtedly one of the most significant steps in helping you get a decent job. It’s also beneficial when it comes to obtaining or maintaining California professional licenses and enrolling in numerous professional organizations. Clearing your criminal record offers a fresh start from an otherwise criminal past.
WHAT IT MEANS TO GET YOUR RECORD EXPUNGED
Under California Penal Code 1203.4, an expungement is a form of relief that releases a person from all penalties and disabilities that usually come with a criminal conviction. You may petition the court to have your criminal record expunged if you were convicted of a crime and satisfied all the terms of your probation.
One particular benefit of an expunged conviction is that it cannot be made public. California's ban the box law in AB 1008 blocks any employer from inquiring about a job candidate’s criminal record until there’s a conditional offer of employment. After expungement, the criminal record cannot be disclosed to an employer regardless of whether there is a conditional offer or not.
To get your criminal records expunged, the court will dismiss your case, set aside your conviction, and allow you to withdraw your guilty plea. The expungement will basically remove the criminal conviction from your record. However, not everyone can get their criminal records cleared. If you’re not eligible for an expungement, you could request a Governor’s Pardon under Penal Code section 1203.4(g). Unlike an expungement where your criminal conviction is set aside, a Governor’s Pardon shows that you’ve been on excellent behavior after your conviction and that you’re all set to be a reproductive member of the society.
ELIGIBILITY FOR AN EXPUNGEMENT
You qualify to petition for an expungement if you didn’t serve a state prison sentence irrespective of whether you were convicted of a felony or misdemeanor. Individuals who were sent to California state prison at the time of judgment or after violating their probation are typically not eligible for a Penal Code 1203.4 expungement. However, people who were sentenced to imprisonment in a county jail, a fine, probation, or a combination of all these sentences may qualify for an expungement.
California Penal Code 1203.4 allows an expungement for a felony or a misdemeanor offense as long as the petitioner successfully completed probation and is not currently on probation for a criminal offense, charged with a criminal offense, or serving another sentence for a criminal offense. If you were put on probation as part of your sentence, you’re required to fulfill all of the conditions of your probation for the entire probation period or until the court dismisses your probation to allow you to qualify for an expungement. Here are some of the most common conditions of probation:
- Violate no law;
- Attend regular meetings with your probation officer,
- Obey all rules, orders, regulations, as well as directives of the court and jail,
- Perform community service,
- Attend Drug Treatment Programs or Alcohol Programs
- Pay restitution, and
- Agree to submit to law enforcement officer searches and seizures of your person or property with or without warrant
However, there’s still hope as you may still qualify for an expungement even if you violated a term of your probation. A hearing will be scheduled to determine whether to grant your criminal record sealing despite your probation violation.
WHO DOES NOT QUALIFY FOR AN EXPUNGEMENT?
Individuals who served a state prison sentence are not eligible for a criminal record expungement unless the crime is one for which the individual would today be sentenced to jail. In addition, there are certain crimes that cannot be cleared or sealed from an individual’s record and these include:
- Lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under PC 288,
- Sodomy with a minor- PC 286(c),
- Continuous sexual abuse of a child – PC 288.5
- Oral copulation with a minor under PC 288 (c),
- Unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor under 16 years old committed by an individual over 21 years old – PC 261.5 (d),
- Forcible sexual penetration with a minor under 14 years of age- Penal Code 289 (j),
- Any special misdemeanors or infractions under Vehicle Code section 42001, and
- Failure to pull over and submit to inspection of equipment or for an unsafe condition endangering a person under Vehicle Code section 42002.1.
WHEN TO PETITION TO HAVE YOUR CRIMINAL RECORDS EXPUNGEMENT?
You’re eligible to petition to have your criminal records sealed if you satisfy the aforementioned eligibility requirements and as soon as you have successfully completed your probation. Also, you may petition for an expungement when your probation ends if it was terminated by the court before the end of the probationary period as provided under PC 1203.3. If you’re convicted of an infraction or misdemeanor and not granted probation, you may apply for an expungement a year later from the time the court first delivered its judgment in your case. But if you’re petitioning under 1203.4, for having served in a state prison prior to Prop 47, at least two years must have passed ever since you completed your sentence. And it’s even possible to file both your expungement and motion for early dismissal of probation at the same time. Consider hiring a Record Expungement Attorney who understands the legal framework and timeframes provided for the submission of the paperwork. An attorney can file several motions jointly to save you the time.
THE COURT’S DISCRETION TO TERMINATE A CONVICTION
If you violate a term of your probation, the court has the discretion to determine whether to grant or deny your petition for a Penal Code 1203.4 expungement. There are several factors that a judge may consider and these include, but not limited to:
- the seriousness of the underlying conviction,
- the petitioner’s criminal history,
- the petitioner’s overall performance while on probation,
- any other additional proof that demonstrates why the applicant deserves a relief, for instance, the opportunity to get a good job,
- strong community ties,
- support of the petitioner’s family, etc.
WHAT HAPPENS IF ONE WAS SENTENCED TO COUNTY JAIL UNDER PROP 47 REALIGNMENT?
Any defendant who was convicted and subsequently sentenced to state prison may still be in a position to have their criminal records expunged. Individuals eligible are those who would have been sentenced to jail for the crime had it been committed following 2011’s Proposition 47 Realignment legislation. This exception is provided under California PC 1203.42. Relief under this law is not automatic but may be approved by a court. The judge can grant the petition only if he/she is convinced that doing so would serve the interests of justice.
In order to be eligible for criminal record sealing, the crime committed must have been one that’s currently punishable in county jail and two years have elapsed since the petitioner completed his/her sentence. Also, the expungement applies if the defendant is not:
- serving a sentence for any other crime,
- under supervised release for a crime,
- charged with the commission of any offense, or
- on probation for any offense.
UNDERSTANDING CALIFORNIA’S EXPUNGEMENT PROCESS
Before granting a California expungement under Penal Code 1203.4, there are several steps that the court must adhere to. You’ll need the assistance of a seasoned a seasoned Criminal Expungement Attorney to navigate the process and get the paperwork required.
Here are the steps that an attorney will follow:
- Scrutinizing the case to determine whether the respondent is, in fact, qualified for this kind of relief,
- Carrying out research on the current and relevant law,
- Filing the required paperwork within the stipulated timeframes, and
- Appearing during the expungement hearing in the designated court.
Filing the appropriate paperwork within the proper timeframes is critical. For instance, the petitioner for an expungement is required to notify the prosecutor at least 15 days before the date of the hearing. This is done to ensure that the prosecutor has enough time to review the case and object if desired.
BENEFITS OF AN EXPUNGEMENT
To begin with, an expunged criminal record may be able to help you secure gainful employment. In most instances, after you’ve effectively expunged your criminal conviction from your record, you’ll no longer have to disclose the criminal conviction to prospective employers. However, this may not be the case if you’re applying for a government job since you may be required to reveal that you’ve been convicted of an offense, but your record has since been expunged.
After your expungement, your record will show that you were arrested, convicted of a crime, and the conviction was set aside and the case was terminated in the interest of justice. This is a significant variance from a factual innocence motion since your record is not sealed and destroyed. Your record still shows that you had been arrested. However, your record will show that your case has been dismissed. California Labor Code 432.7 prohibits an employer from asking job applicants to reveal any information concerning an arrest or conviction. An expungement protects you from being discriminated against on the basis of your conviction.
An expungement doesn’t just work for prospective jobs; it also plays a crucial in protecting your current job. Even in the event that your current employer finds out that you have an expunged conviction, you cannot be fired because of it. It’s worth noting that this protection only applies after your criminal record has been expunged, not before. As a former offender, you may become eligible for grants, making it possible to further your education. And when it comes to housing, you won’t be denied an opportunity to rent or own a home based on your former conviction.
Another benefit of California expungement is that it protects your credibility as a witness in court, except in a situation where you’re the defendant facing new criminal charges. Usually, the opposing side may bring up your conviction to question your credibility but that is not allowed if your conviction is expunged. This benefit can be incredibly helpful if you’re sued for damages or you sue someone else in a civil suit and your testimony is key to the outcome.
In addition to this, many of our clients express a great feeling of satisfaction after they’ve had their conviction expunged. While it does not erase what happened in the past, it certainly helps bring redemption to a mistake that resulted in a frustrating chapter in their lives. Now, this is a great personal benefit that just can’t be quantified.
THINGS AN EXPUNGEMENT WILL NOT DO
While there are numerous things an expungement can do, there are also several limitations on what it can do. For instance, an expungement will not:
- Restore the rights to own, use, or possess a gun or firearm under PC 29800
- Overturn a driver’s license revocation or suspension
- End the duty to register as a California sex offender under PC 290
- Erase a criminal conviction, instead, it updates the record to show that the case has been dismissed, probation is terminated, and your guilty plea has been withdrawn or set aside
Expunged convictions may still be used as prior convictions in enhancing sentencing. For example, an expunged Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell can still be used a prior conviction if the individual is later arrested for another similar crime. An expunged conviction that would be considered a “strike” under California’s three strikes law remains to be a strike.
Also, an expungement does not disqualify the immigration penalties of a criminal conviction such as denial of naturalization, denial of admission, or deportation. Immigration benefits are one of those things that a California records expungement cannot provide.
PETITIONING FOR EARLY TERMINATION AND EXPUNGEMENT SIMULTANEOUSLY
In most cases, an experienced California criminal defense attorney can speed up the entire expungement process by combining several motions into one. The most common combination includes requesting the court in a single proceeding to:
- reduce a felony to a misdemeanor, in cases where the crime is classified as wobbler
- grant an early dismissal of probation (a request that the court has the option of granting provided the applicant has not violated his/her probation)
- expunge a conviction
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EXPUNGEMENT AND SEALING OR DESTROYING ARREST RECORDS
There is a huge difference between expunging records of criminal conviction and sealing and destroying arrest records under Penal Code 851.87. An individual is eligible to have their arrest record sealed and destroyed only if:
- the individual was arrested but criminal charges were never filed
- the conviction was overturned and dismissed on appeal
- the individual was acquitted by a jury after a jury trial
- the case was dismissed in court
- the successfully completed a diversion program like Penal Code 100 deferred entry of judgment or proposition 36 drug diversion.
Typically, sealing an arrest record allows an individual to state that they have never been arrested for a crime. When granted, it means that the petitioner is declared to be factually innocent.
CONTACT US FOR ASSISTANCE
If you’re in Los Angeles, Valley area or Long Beach and have been convicted of a crime or serving a probation term as a result of a crime committed, contact Record Expungement Attorney today. With many years of experience successfully helping our clients get their criminal convictions expunged, you can trust us to work harder to clear your name of the conviction. We can help you navigate the challenging process with ease. Our attorneys have a deep understanding of the filing procedures and court process. Working with us can help you avoid making costly mistakes that many have made when attempting to file a petition for an expungement on their own. We’re here to support you and fight for your freedom. We understand that your future highly depends on what your name holds and we’ll help make the expungement process as seamless as can be. Contact us any time 24/7/365 at 424-835-9505 and we’ll be there when you need us.