Getting a job nowadays is very hard. Get a criminal offense and it becomes next to impossible. Fortunately, under the California Penal Code and criminal justice system, persons charged with criminal offenses can apply for expungement which can wipe out their criminal history and the associated penalties and disabilities.
The main benefit of this is that once a person has his criminal conviction expunged, he no longer has to reveal it to potential employers when he applies for a job, even after his employer has given a conditional offer of employment. This is in contrast to existing criminal convictions which have to be revealed once a conditional offer is given pursuant to a criminal background check.
Having criminal charges expunged also makes it easier for a person to obtain and maintain a California professional license and it makes it easier for him to join various professional organizations.
The California Penal Code 1203.4 PC lets a person revoke his pleas of guilty or no contest, and be allowed to reenter a plea of not guilty, and subsequently have the case dismissed.
If you need help with records expungement and criminal law, don’t hesitate to talk to one of our criminal defense attorneys at The Chastaine Law Office. We are a Gold River, California criminal defense law firm committed to protecting your rights.
Eligibility for Expunction
According to the California penal code, a criminal record of misdemeanors or felonies of a person can be expunged if:
- The applicant has gone through probation,
- The applicant was not admitted into a state prison,
- The applicant was admitted into state prison for a crime that would have been served in county jail after the realignment under proposition 47 of 2014,
- The applicant is not presently on probation for a criminal offense, serving a sentence for a criminal offense, or charged with a criminal felony.
A person is said to have completed probation if he has fulfilled all the terms of the probation, such as paying for the fines, attending counseling, etc. They should also have appeared on all required court appearances and have not committed any new crimes while under probation.
On the other hand, a person is ineligible for expungement if they:
- Are serving a sentence for a criminal offense,
- Are on probation for a criminal offense,
- Are currently charged with a criminal offense,
- Have been convicted of sex offenses against children, including sodomy with a child, having oral sex with a child, having sex with a minor, and performing lewd acts with a child,
- Have been sentenced to state prison unless for crimes that are now punishable by jail time under the 2014 realignment.
If a person isn’t eligible for expungement, he may still be acquitted of his violations with a certificate of rehabilitation, and/or a California governor’s pardon, as well as a commutation of a California prison sentence.
How to Expunge a Record
The expungement of criminal records involves the applicant petitioning the criminal court to expunge his criminal case. This can be done in person, via a lawyer, or a probation officer with an authorization letter. Once the court receives the petition, it may allow the defendant to change his plea of guilty to not guilty or no contest (nolo contendere), or, if the defendant has previously pleaded not guilty, dismissal of his verdict of guilty.
The basic steps for this are:
- Studying the case to see if the applicant’s records are eligible for expungement.
- Reading up on the laws about expungements and the defendant’s records.
- Filing the necessary papers at the right time.
- Going to the expungement hearings at the designated court.
The filing of forms for expungement is very time-sensitive. For instance, when filing, a defendant must give the prosecution an ample waiting period to prepare for the hearing. This means that he must inform the prosecutor 15 days before the hearing. On the hearing, the prosecuting attorney may bring up reasons as to why your record of conviction should not be pardoned.
Living in the modern world is hard. With the power of the internet, a lot of information is instantly accessible including information on criminal activity, conviction records, and criminal arrest. Your potential employer is no exemption.
If you have been convicted of any crime or have an arrest record that you want to be expunged, don’t hesitate to contact a Gold River, CA criminal defense lawyer to know about your eligibility for expunction today.
What Can Expungements Do?
Expunging a case is clearing one’s name legally. This, of course, has many benefits. The most common reasons people make the effort to have their court records expunged are:
- they will have a clean record when applying for jobs that potential employers cannot use to discriminate against them,
- it will be easier to join professional organizations,
- it will be easier to get a California professional license,
- their credibility cannot be revoked when they serve as a witness in court (unless he is the defendant in the case),
- to avoid consequences including deportation for immigrants.
What Can’t Expungements Do?
Like any other law, PC 1203.4 has limitations. It cannot:
- reverse the revocation or suspension of a driver’s license,
- return the gun rights of a felon who has committed a crime under the firearm law,
- allow a person to be not listed as a California sex offender if his crime warrants such action.
Expunged crimes may also be brought up again in the future if the defendant commits another crime related to the crime that was expunged, and expunged crimes are still counted as a strike under California’s three-strikes law.
How are Expungements Different from Sealed Records?
Sealed records are different from expunged records and follow different processes. In general, an expungement erases a record so that it’s like it never happened while a sealed record is not completely erased- they are just hidden from public view.
Similar to expunctions, having a record sealed essentially gives a person a fresh start by erasing his record of conviction. This protects a person from criminal justice information searches and background checks by showing employers that his record is clear. His court record can only be unsealed in very specific cases.
Criminal law is a very confusing aspect of law. If you need any legal aid regarding record sealing, record expunction, and criminal procedure, don’t hesitate to talk to a Gold River, CA criminal lawyer at the Chastaine Law Office today.
Sealing Juvenile Arrest Records
Similar to adult records, juvenile records can be petitioned to be sealed. This gives the same benefit- it hides a person’s criminal records to most people. A juvenile arrest record can be sealed because of the defendant:
- has reached the age of maturity and is no longer a child or if the juvenile court’s jurisdiction ended more than five years ago,
- has not been convicted of any crimes involving immoral behavior and dishonesty as an adult,
- is not expecting civil litigation for the juvenile incident.
If the motion is granted, a court order to seal the defendant’s juvenile records will be sealed for three years and destroyed subsequently.
If you have any questions or require legal help regarding criminal law, expunctions, and sealings, talk to a criminal defense attorney at The Chastaine Law Office to get the information you need.