Expunging a criminal record is an important legal consideration for anyone convicted of a crime. Criminal convictions, even for less serious crimes, can have serious and long-lasting impacts on a person’s life, especially when it comes to getting employment, rental agreements, and certain volunteer work.
Obtaining an expungement can have obstacles. A criminal record expungement attorney can help a person with the legal process of expungement and answer the questions they may have. An attorney may assist with, among other things, helping the person determine their eligibility, completing the required forms, helping develop a convincing presentation and supporting the person if the judge orders a hearing.
The Process of Expungement
When a conviction is expunged, the court withdraws the plea of guilty or no contest and then dismisses the charges. This effectively removes the conviction from the record. This is important in terms of employment because employers are only allowed to make hiring decisions or inquire about arrests that led to convictions. By removing the conviction, a person may have expanded job and career opportunities.
What Expungement Isn’t About
Some people mistakenly believe that an expungement will remove all record of a crime. This is not the case. The details of the situation remain on record with an annotation that the conviction was dismissed. The presence of a prior arrest and criminal activity may still affect the person, but employers and landlords have strict guidelines in how a person’s criminal history may dictate their decisions.
There are certain restrictions that will still apply after a record has been expunged. For example, the person will still need to report the conviction on various government applications and licenses. Certain government offices, such as the DMV and Immigration Services, may still use the conviction when making decisions. If the person is accused or convicted of another crime later, the expungement may still be counted as a prior in determining a sentence. This can have a serious impact on certain crimes that carry elevated sentences for repeat offenders.
Having a case expunged may also be required if one hopes to seek a certificate of rehabilitation. While having a criminal conviction expunged is not a magic spell to erase the past, it can open up many opportunities for people that would otherwise be permanently closed to them. Gaining an expungement can be the difference between a person getting back on their feet or remaining stuck in the rut of unemployment and closed opportunities that many people find themselves in. A Sacramento expungement lawyer, like those from the Chastaine Law Office, can help a person clean their criminal history and get on with their life.