Technology has made it easier than ever for information companies to index, categorize, and sort criminal record databases. These databases have made it as easy as Google searching your name for an employer to dig up your entire criminal history. Many professional licenses and prestigious memberships require having a clean criminal record, and one mistake can haunt you for life—even professionally. Let’s explore how to go through the expungement process.
California Penal Code 1203.4 PC states that an offender will be free from any penalties or public criminal record after having the record expunged. An expungement can be extremely beneficial, allowing you to:
- Secure employment. By law, a California employer cannot discriminate against you based on the fact you have expunged convictions; for being involved in an arrest that didn’t have a conviction; or inquire about an arrest that didn’t result in a conviction
- Obtain state professional licenses: Having a criminal conviction on your record can disqualify you from obtaining certain professional licenses and memberships in professional organizations
- Effectively testify in court: Having a prior criminal conviction can be used to discredit you as a witness in court
- Avoid immigration consequences: In certain situations, you can avoid being deported by cleaning up your criminal record.
Eligibility for Expungement
Only certain offenders are eligible to have their criminal records expunged in California. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense, you can request an expungement if you successfully completed probation and are not currently charged with another offense, on probation for a criminal offense, or serving a sentence for a criminal offense.
Successfully completing your probation means you completed all terms of the probation (i.e. performed all community service, paid all fines, completed all counseling programs, etc.), you attended all required court appearances, and you did not commit any new crimes on probation.
However, even those who did not complete probation with flying colors may be able to have their records expunged; the court can hold a special hearing to determine if you are a good candidate for expungement despite your probation violation.
The judge may consider a number of factors during the hearing, including:
- Your criminal history
- The nature of your underlying conviction
- Your performance overall while on probation
- Any other evidence relevant to your request for expungement, such as your opportunity to get a good job, the support you provide your family, and your community ties
Offenders who were convicted and spent time in California state prison are not eligible for expungement. In addition, certain offenses disqualify you from expungement, including serious sex offenses committed against children.
You are eligible to petition the court for an expungement as soon as your probation is completed. Contact us and get your free consultation today.