Going through a criminal investigation is not easy. If you have been charged with and sentenced for a crime, you may have the conviction expunged. This is often confused with the closely related motion to seal, where one asks the court to have a criminal record sealed. A California expungement (or expunction) is a legal proceeding where the justice court can allow an individual to withdraw a ‘guilty’ or a ‘no contedere’ (no contest) plea and instead plead ‘not guilty’ in a criminal case. The judge will dismiss the criminal charges and set aside the criminal conviction.

For expungement-related concerns or for sealing process clarifications, seek legal aid from a criminal law expert. Contact our Gold River criminal defense attorneys to know more about what you can do after you obtain a conviction.

What this article will focus on are:

– What it means to have a conviction expunged

– The criminal justice system and limitations of expungements

– Requirements for expungement of DUI criminal cases

– The need for a reliable Gold River criminal defense lawyer

What it means to have a conviction expunged

Expunge Convictions in California According to relevant state law, the Department of Justice in California (through the granting court) may process an expungement and amend the conviction records of the petitioner. Expungement of court records, however, may not fully clear your criminal history. Some information on previous criminal activity, such as a felony conviction, will still be kept by the DOJ. There will be limited parties who can access this information, and the actual list varies from state to state.

For employment purposes, it would be helpful to know that employers are generally not permitted to access details on an expunged felony record. This generally includes arrest records or any court record on an expunged crime. Under the relevant statute of criminal laws, you may deny a record of conviction (when asked by a prospective employer if you have ever been convicted of a crime). California statutes likewise prohibit employers from asking an applicant to disclose details of an arrest record that did not lead to conviction or even to probe about a dismissed conviction in a sealed record. A trusted Gold River criminal defense attorney can explain this in more detail.

The criminal justice system and limitations of expungements

Under the Penal Code, offenders whose criminal record will be expunged will be dismissed from all the fines and penalties related to the conviction. Expungements, however, are not absolute.

First and foremost, one must remember that a clean criminal record, in the context of the state, is not recognized by the federal court. Expungements in California are not acknowledged by the federal government. In contrast to your state public record, your criminal history in the eyes of the federal government generally remains the same. This is especially applicable when you are dealing with federal employment, background checks, or security clearances. Additionally, an expunged crime must still be disclosed when applying for an employment or professional license, or within any state or local agency licensure application.

Despite having a ‘clean slate’, you are required to acknowledge any expunged offense when running for public office. One must also keep in mind that expunged offenses remain ‘priorable’. This means that the expunged criminal arrest and conviction will still be used by the prosecutor or the DMV to raise fines and sentences for felonies and crimes committed afterward. Additionally, if you have been convicted of a crime that prohibited the possession of firearms, you will still be ineligible to own a firearm even after expunging the said criminal offense.

Requirements for expungement of DUI criminal cases

Statutory laws specify different expungement requirements for driving under the influence (DUI) and other similar violations of the vehicle code. These ‘other violations’ may involve reckless driving not involving alcohol or any controlled substance, over-speeding, driving on a suspended license, hit and run, and vehicular manslaughter.

When you file a petition for an expungement of your criminal record, there are several possible grounds. It may be a failed criminal background check that led either to denial of an attempt to buy a property or loss of work opportunities. It may be a need to proceed with school admission to get a professional degree. An experienced Gold River criminal defense lawyer can discuss other possible grounds.

When petitioning the criminal court to proceed with the expungement of criminal records, you must furnish all of the paperwork and supporting documents related to the grounds you will present. Testimonials from witnesses, evidence of your recovery or good conduct, distinctions, or other qualifications may also be necessary if you want to petition the court to have a record expunged.

The need for a reliable local attorney

The process of requesting expungement of criminal convictions is not easy, but it can be done. If your record is clear, proceeding with a job application, buying property, or applying for a license will be less stressful. Reliable legal help is necessary for clearing your criminal record and getting a fresh start in life. 

For clarifications on the above or for any legal questions related to an infraction, misdemeanors, and felonies, dismissal, pardon or record sealing, hire an expert on the criminal justice system. Consult a credible Gold River criminal defense attorney from a trusted criminal defense law firm. Contact us at Chastaine Jones for a case evaluation.