Everyone makes mistakes. Most mistakes are easy to resolve and forgotten by the world. However, if you’ve made a mistake that led to a criminal record, you may have to live with the consequences for the rest of your life.
That’s not always the case, though. California state laws allow people with certain types of convictions to expunge their records. An expungement can change your life by converting misdemeanor and felony convictions into dismissals. Here’s what you need to know about expungements, their benefits, and how you can pursue an expungement in California.
What Is an Expungement?
Expungement is the process of converting a conviction on your criminal record into a dismissal. While it doesn’t erase the record entirely, it does mean that the state releases you from the penalties that come with a conviction. California also bars employers from discriminating against candidates with expunged records.
Not everyone is eligible for expungements. You may qualify for expungement if:
- You are not currently charged with a criminal offense
- You are not on probation
- You are not serving a criminal sentence
- You are not convicted of sex crimes involving children
- You were not sentenced to prison
You are likely eligible for expungement as long as you completed your sentence and probation and aren’t disqualified by one of the above issues.
If so, the expungement will change your record to state the expunged convictions were “set aside and dismissed” instead. This means you can legally say you have not been convicted of those crimes.
Benefits of Criminal Record Expungements
Expungements take a little work on your part, but it’s worth the effort. Having your record expunged provides a wide range of benefits for most people. Here are three of the most valuable reasons people request expungements and how they can improve your life.
Improve Job Opportunities
The most common reason people ask for expungements is that they want to advance their careers. Many employers run background checks on job applicants to ensure they’re trustworthy. Employers in California are allowed to make hiring decisions based on candidates’ criminal records, so a conviction for a felony is often enough to disqualify you from consideration.
However, under California Penal Code 1203.4 PC, employers can’t consider any expunged convictions. In many cases, basic employment background checks won’t even bring up these records in the first place. Expungements can help you improve your chances of getting new jobs significantly by keeping your past out of consideration.
Furthermore, expungements can make you eligible for professional licenses again. Many professional organizations and state-issued licenses bar people with specific crimes on their records. However, expunged records are not considered by these groups. An expungement can help you pursue accreditations, licenses, and memberships that are necessary to do your job.
Broaden Housing Opportunities
Like employers, landlords often run background checks on potential renters to see if they’re strong candidates. You may lose opportunities to rent in many places if you are legally obliged to answer “yes” regarding whether you’ve committed a particular crime.
With an expungement, this becomes less of an issue. Your criminal record will not list the expunged crimes as convictions anymore. If landlords do in-depth background checks, they will see a dismissal on your record instead. That is reassuring to landlords who might be trusting you with their property for the length of the lease, which potentially helps you expand your access to housing.
Protect Your Privacy
Having a criminal record can be stressful. One of the most immediate benefits of getting an expungement is the privacy and peace of mind it offers. Once your record is expunged and the files sealed, you can rest easy knowing that your past is behind you.
How to Pursue an Expungement of Your Criminal Record
If you’re ready and eligible to clear your police record, it’s time to get started. Here’s how you can request an expungement of your record and improve your life:
Collect Necessary Information
For every conviction you want expunged, you need to gather the following information:
- Location of the court in which you were convicted
- Case docket number
- Conviction date
- Section number of criminal code violations
- Case verdict or plea
- Parole terms and date it ended
- Details of your probation, including location, any violations, and any other offenses you picked up during probation
- Details of your sentence
This information is necessary to file your petitions, demonstrate your eligibility, and prove to the court that you’ve served your sentences.
Petition to Have Felonies Reduces to Misdemeanors
If you want to have felony convictions expunged, you’ll first need to have the crimes reduced to misdemeanors. You will need to attend a hearing to explain to the judge why you believe the reduction is worthwhile. The judge will ask you questions about your situation and determine whether the reduction is justified. Working with an experienced expungement attorney can improve your likelihood that the reduction is granted.
Petition for Expungements
If you have had your felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors, or you’re only pursuing expungements for misdemeanors, you can petition for an expungement. The court will examine your petition and the included information and decide whether your expungement should be granted within two to three months. As long as you are eligible and you have included all necessary information, it should be granted. If it is dismissed, you have 60 days to file an appeal, or you can refile.
Move Forward with Expungement with Expert Legal Representation
Expunging your record can change your life by making it easier to pursue job and housing opportunities. It can also protect your privacy and help you move past a difficult part of your life. If you’re ready to expunge your criminal records, you can call the expert expungement attorney of the Law Offices of M. Gabriela Guraiibat 650-227-9132 or reach out online.
Expungement requires keeping track of a lot of documents and details. Working with an experienced attorney can help you make sure you’re successful on your first try. Start the process today by reaching out to our qualified team of lawyers to learn how we can help you move on with your life.