Expunging your criminal record in California is the process of filing a legal petition or motion with the court where your conviction transpired pursuant to Penal Code 1203.4 to have the judge (1) re-open the case, (2) set aside the conviction, and (3) dismiss the case. If the judge grants the expungement petition, you will no longer be considered convicted of the crime by the state of California, and your permanent criminal record will be updated to display a dismissal rather than a criminal conviction. Subsequently, once the conviction is expunged by the court you can truthfully tell employers and all other interested parties you have not previously been convicted of a crime. Furthermore, the expunged conviction will no longer show on employer and other background checks.
Everything is now online and a thorough background check can be done with the stroke of keyboard. Background checks are used by potential employers, landlords, lenders, and anyone else seeking to get a grasp on your criminal history before initiating a relationship with you. If an employer or landlord runs a background check on you after the criminal expungement process has been completed, that person will no longer be able to see any information pertaining to the expunged criminal case. Therefore, it is important to clean up your criminal history in the current competitive job market. Expungement of your criminal record allows you to move forward with your life without worrying that your past mistakes will hinder your future aspirations.
If you have been convicted of an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony in the state of California you are entitled to expunge your criminal conviction if you meet the following criteria:
1. You were charged and convicted in state court, NOT federal court. Only state convictions are available for expungement.
2. Your sentence did not involve going to state prison. County jail and holding cells are NOT state prison. If you DID go to state prison than you may be eligible for a California Certificate of Rehabilitation.
3. You have successfully completed your probationary term, or if you were not given probation, then one year has passed since your conviction date. However, if you are still on probation I will petition the court for early termination of your probation.
4. You must have satisfied all the requirements of your sentence (i.e., fines, restitution, mandatory programs, community service, classes, etc.).
5. You are not currently being charged with another criminal offense, on probation for another criminal offense, or serving a sentence for another criminal offense.
6. It must also be noted that there are several crimes that have been carved out in Penal Code 1203.4 that are not available for expungement relief, all of which involve serious sex offenses committed against children. They include the following sections of the Penal Code: 286(c), 288, 288.5, 289(j), and 261.5(d).
If you violated any of the terms of your probation, you can still seek an expungement under Penal Code 1203.4. When a probation violation is present it is important that I build as strong of a case as possible for expungement. The court will look at the following factors when deciding whether to grant the expungement:
1. Your overall performance and behavior while on probation.
2. The seriousness of the probation violation.
3. The seriousness of the underlying conviction.
4. Your overall criminal record (i.e., are you a repeat offender).
5. All the evidence I can provide that demonstrates you are deserving of expungement relief. This may include: (a) your inability to find employment, (b) your role in taking care of your dependants, (c) your positive role in your community or in the lives of those you come in contact with, (d) the positive things you have done since the conviction (e.g., attending college or trade school, work promotions, etc.).
I will put together the strongest possible case for you. Through your background I will find and highlight the most persuasive arguments to present to the judge.
Expungement relief may still be available to you even if you are currently on probation. I am able to petition the court under Penal Code 1203.3 for early termination of your probation in the interest of justice. At the same time I will also ask the court for expungement under Penal Code 1203.4. If the judge is willing to grant early termination of your probation, s/he will almost always also grant the expungement at the same time. Although a Penal Code 1203.3 petition for early termination of probation can be filed at any time during your probationary period, I suggest that you complete at least half of your probationary term before filing the petition because this will greatly increase the chances the judge will grant your petition. Furthermore, you must have satisfied all of your other sentencing requirements (e.g., fines, restitution, participation in mandatory classes and programs, community service).
Many of my clients have multiple criminal cases in their lifetime. Having multiple cases does not preclude you from seeking expungement. Judges separately handle each criminal case, and an expungement petition would need to be filed for each criminal case you wish to expunge. I specialize in helping clients with multiple cases clean up their entire criminal record no matter how many cases or jurisdictions are involved. If you sign up with me to expunge more than one criminal case, all subsequent criminal case expungements will be substantially discounted. View my multiple conviction discount page.
Once you contact my law firm and sign up for one of my expungement services I will move through the following steps:
1. I will contact you and welcome you.
2. I will attempt to obtain the necessary case details for expungement from the court.
3. I will inquire with you about your case details and your personal details with the aim of building the strongest case possible for expungement.
4. I will analyze your case details to determine if your conviction is in fact eligible for expungement relief.
5. I will research all applicable current state laws.
6. I will prepare the expungement petition.
7. I will file all the appropriate paperwork within the required timeframes and will serve the prosecuting attorney as required by Penal Code 1203.4.
8. I will pay all filing fees and court costs (included in fixed prices).
9 I will attend all expungement hearings on your behalf. You are not required to attend.
10. I will provide you with a signed order from the judge granting the expungement.
11. I will ensure the criminal databases used for background checks by employers and landlords are updated to reflect the expungement.
Not only will expunging your criminal record have positive intangible benefits (e.g., peace of mind), it will also provide the concrete benefits below.
1. In almost all cases private employers cannot ask about convictions that were dismissed under Penal Code 1203.4, nor can a conviction dismissed be considered for employment purposes.
2. Your expunged conviction will not show up on employer or landlord background checks.
3. You can truthfully and legally answer “NO” on private sector job or rental applications when asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime.
4. You can greatly increase your earning potential by becoming eligible for more employment opportunities.
5. You may become eligible for more professional licenses and certificates.
6. Reducing a “wobbler” felony conviction to a misdemeanor can restore certain rights (e.g., your right to own a gun). See list of felony “wobbler” offenses.
7. You may become eligible for more student loans.
8. You may become eligible for housing assistance.
9. You can tell friends and family you have not been convicted of a crime.
10. You have the satisfaction of forgetting the past for good and moving forward into a more positive future.
Although getting your criminal record expunged does have huge benefits for your life, it does not hide the criminal case in all situations. There are still situations where the underlying conviction can against you moving forward in your life.
1. An expunged case can still be used against you in the sentencing of a subsequent case. For example, if you get a DUI conviction expunged, it can still be used against you as a prior DUI if you were to get a second DUI within 10 years, and the fact that the case was expunged is meaningless.
2. Expungement does not restore your right to own a firearm. If you are forbidden from owning a firearm due to a felony conviction, I would need to reduce your felony to a misdemeanor to restore your Second Amendment right to bear arms. I specialize in doing so. If you are trying to restore your gun rights, please contact me.
3. You must disclose the previous conviction and expungement in three very narrow circumstances in the future as dictated by Penal Code 1203.4. If your situation is not on this list after expungement then you can answer “NO” when asked if you have a criminal past. Below are the only three circumstances you need to disclose an expunged case in your life.
a. If contracting with the California State Lottery Commission.
b. When applying for public office (e.g., run for governor, mayor, etc.).
c. When applying for a state license.
4. Expungement does not seal your record. Rather, it removes the conviction from your record and updates the record to show as dismissed. Your permanent Department of Justice (“DOJ”) rap sheet will still show the full details of the criminal case, including the expungement. However, very few entities have access to your DOJ rap sheet, which requires your consent and fingerprints. On normal employer background checks, which account for over 95% of checks in the marketplace, nothing from your past will show. Even if an employer is able to demand a DOJ rap sheet, an expunged record still looks much better.
Photos and articles copyright Arash Moussavian. Please contact me prior to use, or I will make shish kabab of your loins.