Expungement Services in San Diego
Get Your Criminal Record Sealed & Expunged in California
If you have been arrested or convicted of a crime, your life and future have been affected. You may have been denied employment, housing, and educational opportunities because of your criminal record. Fortunately, there are legal remedies available to you. One of these remedies is expungement. Expungement is the legal process by which a criminal record is sealed and/or destroyed. A criminal record that has been expunged can no longer be used against you in employment, housing, or education opportunities. Additionally, an expunged record is not available to the general public, including employers and landlords.
How does an Expungement help me?
Expungement law (Penal Code Section 1203.4) provides in part that; “a petitioner shall be allowed by the court to withdraw his or her plea of guilty or plea of nolo contendere and enter a plea of not guilty or if he or she has been convicted after a plea of not guilty, the court shall set aside the verdict of guilty and in either case, it shall dismiss the accusations or information against the defendant and except as noted below, he or she shall be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense that he or she has been convicted of.”
How does Expungement help me when applying for jobs?
After an expungement, if Private Employers ask whether you have ever been found guilty of a crime, you can answer with a “NO." When it comes to questions by Government Employers or Government Licensing Applications on whether you have ever been convicted of a crime, you have to disclose the expunged case and let it be noted that the conviction has been expunged in the "explanation/further details" section on the application.
What can an expungement do for me?
There are various benefits to obtaining an Expungement in California. The most significant include (but are not limited to):
Helping you secure employment as per the California law. An employer will not in any case:
- Discriminate against you for being involved in any arrest that didn't result in a conviction,
- Inquire about the fact that you suffered an arrest that didn't result in a conviction,
- Discriminate against you based on the fact that you have expunged convictions,
helping you obtain a state professional license, preventing any expunged prior convictions from being used to impeach your credibility as a witness in court (not unless you are the defendant being prosecuted in the subsequent case), helping you avoid certain immigration consequences such as deportation.
What an expungement can do for you
There are various benefits to obtaining a California expungement. The most significant include (but are not limited to):
Helping you secure employment as per the California law. An employer will not in any case:
- Discriminate against you for being involved in any arrest that didn't result in a conviction.
- Inquire about the fact that you suffered an arrest that didn't result in a conviction.
- Discriminate against you based on the fact that you have expunged convictions.
- helping you obtain a state professional license.
- preventing any expunged prior convictions from being used to impeach your credibility as a witness in court (not unless you are the defendant being prosecuted in the subsequent case).
- helping you avoid certain immigration consequences such as deportation.
What an expungement will NOT do for you
An expungement will not;
- Overturn a driver's license suspension or revocation.
- Restore your California gun rights under Penal Code 12021 PC California's felon with a firearm law. Reducing your California felony to a lesser criminal offense is probably the easiest way to restore your firearms rights. This relief applies to "wobbler" offenses which are crime that prosecutors may choose to charge as either a misdemeanor or a felony on a case by case basis. If you were convicted of a wobbler felony, the court may be petitioned to reduce that felony to a misdemeanor and if the petition is successful, the state will restore your gun rights automatically.
- End your duty to register as a California sex offender under Penal Code 290 PC. The Sex Offender Registration Act states that you are required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life provided you live, work, or attend school in California. You have to keep your local law enforcement agency informed as to your general whereabouts.
In addition, expunged convictions may still be used as prior convictions to enhance sentencing ( with multiple DUI convictions) and as "strikes" for purposes of California's three-strikes law. California's three-strikes law is a sentencing scheme that adds significant time to the prison sentences of certain repeat offenders convicted of felonies.
OVERVIEW OF THE EXPUNGEMENT PROCESS
Before the court grants a California expungement, there are several steps that you ought to follow.
The steps include:
- Analyzing the case to determine whether you are eligible for this type of relief.
- Filing the appropriate paperwork within the proper timeframes (for instance, you must provide the prosecutor with at least 15 days' notice prior to your expungement hearing so that he/she can have the opportunity to review your case and object if necessary, (IF APPLICABLE).
- Attending the expungement hearing in the designated court
But even if you follow all of this step and the judge grants your expungement there are still restrictions and limitations as to what an expungement will ultimately do for you.
When can I apply for an expungement?
If you meet the other eligibility requirements, you may petition the court to expunge your California criminal record as soon as you are through with probation, or as soon as an early termination of probation is granted. Many times, your California criminal defense lawyer can speed up the expungement process by "packaging" a number of motions into one. The most common example of this expeditions include asking the court to:
- Grant an early termination of probation (which the court has the option of granting as long as you are in compliance with the terms of your probation).
- Reduce a felony to a misdemeanor (in cases where the felony offense is classified as a "wobbler" i.e a charge that the prosecutor could have filed as either a felony or a misdemeanor).
- Expunge your conviction all in the same proceeding.
How do I Seal and destroy records?
Sealing and destroying arrest records is a totally different process from expunging records of criminal convictions. If
- You were arrested, but the prosecutor never filed criminal charges.
- You had your case dismissed in court.
- You were acquitted by a jury following a jury trial (If at the time of your California arraignment, you enter a "not guilty" plea, you will thereafter engage in a number of pretrial proceedings that are designed to resolve the case - usually by way of a plea bargain. However, if you maintain your "not guilty" plea, you will ultimately proceed to trial and most likely that trial will be a jury trial).
You may be entitled to have your arrest records sealed and destroyed. This relief allows you to state in all honesty that you have never been arrested for a crime (since a judge has to declare you factually innocent before he/she grants this type of motion).
Sealing California juvenile court records provides you with the same benefits. You qualify for this relief if:
- You are currently an adult, or the jurisdiction of the juvenile court was terminated at least five years ago.
- As an adult, you have not been convicted of any crimes of moral turpitude (i.e, a crime involving dishonesty or immorality).
- There is no pending civil litigation based on the juvenile incident.
Once the judge grants your motion to seal and destroy your records, the arrest record is ordered sealed for 3 years and destroyed thereafter.
WHAT IS AN EXPUNGEMENT?
For you to be eligible for an expungement you must have successfully completed probation (no violations or arrests should have been made while you were on probation) and you must not be facing any new charges.
Who is eligible to get a California expungement?
You're entitled to expunge your criminal records in California if you were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense and you:
- Successfully completed probation.
- Are not currently charged with a criminal offense.
- On probation for a criminal offense or serving a sentence for a criminal offense.
You must have successfully completed your probation to its full term (or obtained an early termination of probation). If you were sent to California state prison at the time of judgment, or because of a probation violation, you do not qualify for an expungement.
To successfully complete your probation means that:
- You completed all the terms of your probation (for instance paid all fines and restitution, completed any counseling programs, community service, etc.).
- You attended all required court appearances.
- You did not commit any new crimes while on probation.
Who is NOT eligible to get a California expungement?
You cannot use an expungement for a conviction if you were sent to state prison regardless if it was a Misdemeanor or a Felony. Apart from that, there are also certain criminal offenses in California that cannot be expunged. These include serious sex offenses committed against children, such as:
- Penal Code 286(c) PC California's law against sodomy with a child.
- Penal Code 288 PC California's lewd acts with a child law.
- Penal Code 288a (c) PC California's law against oral copulation with a child.
- Penal Code 261.5(d) PC California's statutory rape law which prohibits sexual intercourse between persons who are 21 years and older with persons younger than 16.