California Expungment Process OverviewThis is a quick overview of expungement law in California, and what an expungement can and cannot do for your life.You can use the blue links directly below to jump to a desired section or scroll down and start reading from the beginning.
What is expungement?
What is criminal record expungement?Expunging your criminal record in California is the process of petitioning the state court where your conviction took place under California Penal Code 1203.4 to re-open the case, set aside your guilty plea, your Nolo contendere (no contest) plea, or factual finding of guilt, and to set aside the conviction and dismiss the case. If the expungement petition is granted you will no longer be considered convicted of the crime by the state of California, and your criminal record will be permanently changed to display a dismissal rather than a conviction. Subsequently, once the conviction is expunged by the court you can truthfully tell employers, your family, and all other interested parties that you have not previously been convicted of a crime.
Why is expungement important in California?
Until fairly recently with advent of the internet and the subsequent development of thousands of privately owned criminal background databases, a person's criminal history was unlikely to be discovered by a potential employer, or anybody else for that matter.
Even though criminal records were always a matter of public record, most employers did not devote the time to manually sifting through stacks of paper criminal records at the local courthouse. Today a thorough background check can be done with the stroke of keyboard, and these background checks are used by potential employers, potential landlords, potential lenders, and anybody else that wants to get a grasp on your history before initiating a relationship with you. If anybody runs a standard commercial background check on you after the expungement process has been completed, the chances are the case and the dismissed conviction will not appear on the report. Consequently, in this down economy and tought job market it is more important than ever to address your criminal history. Expungement relief gives you a "fresh start" in life, allowing you to forget the past and embrace the future.
Who is eligible for expungement in California?If you have been convicted of an infraction, misdemeanor or felony in the state of California you are entitled to expunge your criminal conviction if you meet the following criteria:
It must also be noted that there are several crimes that have been carved out in PC 1203.4 that are not available for expungement relief, all of which involve serious sex offenses committed against children. They include the following sections of the California Penal Code: 286(c), 288, 288.5, 289(j), and 261.5(d).
What if you violated probation?If you violated any terms of your probation (i.e., had a violation hearing and were found to be in violation), yet still went on to successfully complete your probation, you can still seek an expungment under PC 1203.4. However, you lose your entitlement to the relief and it is up to the discretion of the court to grant the expungment. The court will look as the following factors when deciding whether to grant the expungement:
Our law firm thrives on these more challenging cases, and we will put together the strongest case possible for you. We will get to know you and your background, allowing us to find, and highlight, all your positive attributes for the judge.
What if you are still on probation?Expungement relief may still be available to you even if you are currently on probation. We are able to petition the court under California Penal Code 1203.3 for early termination of your probation. If the eartly termination petition is granted we can then petition the court for expungement of your underlying conviction at the same time. Although a PC 1203.3 petition for early termination of probation can be filed at any time during your probationary period, we suggest that you complete at least half of your probation term before the petition is filed, as this will greatly increase your chances of getting the petition granted by the judge. Also you must have satisfied all of your other sentencing requirements, such as fines, restitution, participation in mandatory classes and programs, and community service. Petitioning the court for early termination, and subsequent expungement of your underlying conviction, allows you to quickly forget about a mistake you made and move on with your life without the need to wait until the full probationary term has been fully completed. View our early termination of probation page.
What if you have several convictions?Each conviction must be handled separately and a petition for dismissal would need to be filed for each conviction you desire to have expunged. Each conviction and petition will be handled by our firm and by the court as completely separate cases. However, if you sign up with us to expunge more than one conviction all subsequent convictions will be substantially discounted. View our multiple conviction discount page.
What is our expungement process?Once you contact our law firm and sign up for one our California expungement services we (David Huffman, or one of our experienced attorneys) will move through the following steps:
We believe that it is important to seek a knowledgeable attorney's guidance through this complex process, which will ensure that each step is handled properly, guaranteeing you the best possible chance at success. Fresh Start Law Center is one of the few California law firms that specializes solely in California expungement laws. So when you sign up with us, you can rest assured that you are in good hands.
What will expungement in California do for you?Not only will expunging your previous criminal record have positive intangible benefits, such as peace of mind, it will also provide the following tangible benefits as well:
What won't expungement in California do for you?
There are still situations where the underlying conviction can and will be used against you moving forward.