Requirements for a Record Expungement

As a criminal defense attorney, I receive many requests to help people with their criminal record expungements. I can help most of those people, but there are some things to understand before you petition for an expungement. For one, you are eligible for an expungement if you were granted, then completed probation. You cannot be serving any other sentence or be on probation for any other offense anywhere when you apply. If you were denied probation, you must wait at least one year following your conviction before you apply. Keep in mind that if you served any time in a California State prison, you will not be eligible for a record expungement.

An Expungement is not a Pardon

If your case is expunged, it does not mean your case is erased or sealed. It is more like your case is dismissed. According to California law, you are ‘released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense’. Basically, for most purposes your conviction does not have any effect.

Benefits of Expungement

If you aren’t sure what benefits an expungement has for you, keep reading. The biggest effect is that you will be able to report that you have not been convicted on many job applications. This one is huge, finding employment is so much easier when you are able to check that “NO” box on an application. The other big one is that an expungement is step one to receiving a pardon. Not everybody will be eligible for a pardon, but an expungement is required before any other steps toward a pardon are taken. There are a couple of less notable benefits to an expungement. You will be able to testify as a witness without risk of being impeached for this conviction. Also, your court record will be updated to include the dismissal of the case.

Limitations of Expungement

Now, there are some things that expungement will not change. For one, you may still have to register as a sex offender if your conviction required it. If your right to possess firearms was revoked, it will not be reinstated. Also, many government jobs, or jobs that require a security clearance will discover your conviction. This can include your current employer. It is best to disclose the conviction and expungement to any employers who require a security clearance, or goverment issued permit, license, or certificate. Your conviction will also count as a “prior” for a future offense. Also, the INS may use that conviction for removal and exclusion purposes.

Getting Help with an Expungement

Step one is to call my office. We can set an appointment to discuss your specific case. Even though you’ve read all this, it does not count as legal advice, and does not create an attorney/client relationship. You case may not fit the guidelines above, that’s why it is important to call or email me so I can help you. The ultimate goal should be getting your life back together after you’ve served your sentence. It’s hard to do it alone, so I’m here to help you.

Source: California Legal Code 1023.4