Guide For Expunging Your Criminal Record

Last Modified: January 22, 2024

Expunging your Criminal Record is important as it may affect your employment. Speak with a top rated expungment attorney today.

Los Angeles Expungement Attorneys

Have you been convicted of a crime? Have you ever been denied a job because you have a criminal record? Los Angeles expungement attorneys can clear your record even if you have been convicted of a felony.

What is Expungement?

In California, expungement is a procedure whereby a person who was previously convicted of a crime (either at trial or by negotiated plea) may file a motion in court to have a judge formally dismiss the charge underlying the conviction.

  • Persons can seek expungement under California Penal Code §1203.4(a) PC.
  • Persons who have been convicted of misdemeanors may seek expungement of that conviction.

As will be discussed below, even people who have been convicted of certain felonies may seek expungement of that conviction. Technically, if the judge grants the expungement motion, the person seeking the relief withdraws his guilty plea. If he was convicted at trial, the judge sets aside the guilty verdict. Under either scenario, the judge then dismisses the charge.

The effect of the expungement is that the person is “released from all penalties or disabilities” associated with the prior conviction.

Who is Eligible for Expungement of a Prior Conviction?

Anyone who was convicted of a misdemeanor and served his sentence in county jail may seek expungement of the conviction. If the judge sentenced him to probation, he has to either successfully complete his probation term or get an early termination of his probation.

A person convicted of certain felonies may also try to get the conviction expunged. In 2014, California passed Proposition 47, known as Realignment legislation. Under Proposition 47, and its related penal code section, Penal Code §1203.42 PC, certain non-violent felonies were “realigned,” thereby becoming misdemeanors.

This is significant because persons convicted of those felonies served time in state prison. A person who served time in state prison may not get that conviction expunged.

Therefore, if a person prior to 2014 served a term in state prison for a felony covered by Penal Code 1203.42 PC, that person can now get their conviction expunged.

Additionally, a person seeking expungement cannot have pending charges against them, be on probation or be in jail.

Who Cannot Get a Conviction Expunged?

There are several felony convictions that will never be expunged. This includes murder, rape, aggravated assault, etc.

In addition, there are several sex crime offenses involving children, the conviction of which cannot be expunged.

What is the Procedure to Get a Conviction Expunged?

The person who is seeking expungement must file a form with the county court in which they were convicted. If looking to expunge a misdemeanor, there is a specific form for that.

If trying to expunge a felony, you must first file a form to request the judge to reduce the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor, since, technically, felonies cannot be expunged. This happens if a person has been convicted of a “wobbler.”

A wobbler is a crime which can either be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. The prosecutor has the discretion to make that decision.

  • If successful, you then file another form to expunge the charge that is now a misdemeanor.
  • If you are still on probation, you can move for early termination of the probation. If granted, you then move to expunge the conviction.
  • If the judge denies the motion for expungement, you can try again in six months. Perhaps the judge denied the motion because you were unemployed, not in school, etc. In that six months you could get a steady job, move in with family, or attend school full-time. Perhaps your next expungement attempt will be successful.

The judge will hold a hearing three to five months after you request an expungement. You may or may not have to appear - it depends on the facts of your case.

Do You Need an Attorney to Request Expungement?

The law does not require you to have an attorney represent you. In fact, you can get the forms to file at the courthouse or online. Your probation officer can help you.

But, as you can see, there are a lot of forms to fill out. Timing is important, too. For instance, you have to let the prosecutor’s office know you are seeking expungement. They may want to object. You have to give them time if they want to object.

Moreover, an experienced Los Angeles expungement attorney knows which forms to file, where to file them, etc. Indeed, a Los Angeles expungement lawyer can streamline the process for you. For example, that lawyer knows you can file a request for early termination of probation, reduction of a felony to a misdemeanor and expungement of the misdemeanor at the same time.

Your lawyer can also help you gather character references. You can file them with your expungement request. A favorable character reference from a new employer or a teacher at your school would certainly benefit you.

If you were convicted of more than one charge, you will have to file separate expungement requests for each conviction. All in all, having an experienced Los Angeles expungement attorney by your side will better your chances of success.

What Will an Expungement Mean for You?

Foremost, when applying for a job, you will not have to disclose your prior conviction (with exceptions, of course). Moreover, any employer who may nevertheless find out about your conviction cannot use that conviction as a reason not to hire you.

The expungement can help you if you apply for a state or professional license.

What Will an Expungement Not Do?

Well, the expungement means a judge has dismissed the criminal charges against you. It does not mean your criminal history has been completely erased. Certain government agencies and firms that conduct background searches will see your history.

  • An expungement will not negate a driver’s license suspension or revocation
  • It will not restore weapons’ possession rights
  • If you expunge a DUI conviction, that conviction can still be used for sentencing enhancement as a repeat offender
  • If you are a registered sex offender, you will stay on that list

People who are applying for a job as a peace officer, to work at the California Lottery Commission or who are running for public office must disclose prior convictions.

Lastly, if your conviction is a “strike” under California’s three-strikes law, it remains as a strike.

Los Angeles Expungement Attorneys

Persons looking to expunge prior convictions could use the help of experienced Los Angeles expungement lawyers. Persons with criminal convictions may have problems getting jobs, finding a place to live, or getting a professional license.

Expungement can remove those obstacles.

Daniel Perlman and Matthew Cohen are experienced Los Angeles criminal lawyers at Perlman & Cohen. They have successfully gotten expungement for multiple clients in Los Angeles courts.

Experienced Los Angeles expungement attorneys can quickly and efficiently get you the result you want. Call them at (310) 557-1700 to set up a free consultation to discuss if expungement is an option for you.

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