You might be surprised to learn that an arrest can automatically shut many opportunities in life, from seeking a new job to possessing a state license. Luckily, the law allows you to “expunge” the criminal records. When the criminal courts in the state expunge your criminal records, you will be free from any consequences of the conviction. When the criminal court convicts you or your loved one over a crime in Anaheim, CA, you want to ensure the court expunges the criminal records after serving the probation.

At California Criminal Lawyer Group, we help our clients seal their arrest records and expunge their criminal convictions. We start by examining whether you qualify for the expungement process. We also let you understand the benefits associated with expungement. Therefore do not miss great opportunities in your life because of a small mistake you made decades of years ago. Work with our attorneys and expunge the criminal convictions today!

Who is Eligible for California Expungement?

Regardless of whether your criminal conviction is a felony or misdemeanor, you stand a chance to qualify for expungement. According to the law, you must meet the requirements. The requirements for expungement are:

  • You completed the ordered probation, or you acquired early probation termination

  • You did not remain behind bars in state prison for the conviction in question

For the court to consider you have completed your probation, you must have finished the following:

  • Appeared for the compulsory court proceedings, whether by appearing at the court or letting your attorney represent you.

  • During the probation period, you did not commit a new crime.

  • You have served your probation conditions and terms, including restitution, financial sanctions, public service, and mandatory therapy.

Even when the court convicted you in state prison, you can also qualify for the expungement. The law brings an exception for the offenders under Prop 47, the realignment bill. Your criminal defense attorney can request a special court hearing if you violate probation terms. The criminal court judge will determine whether you qualify for expungement during the hearing. However, the judge will consider the evidence before deciding whether you are fit for the expungement. The following are the key factors the judge will be more likely to consider:

  • Your probation process.

  • The severity of your offense.

  • Your criminal history.

The law allows your criminal defense attorney to present evidence supporting the claim you are fit for the expungement. For example, the attorney can present evidence showing you are shortlisted for a particular job. Also, the attorney may argue you were attending school, and you think the expungement will help you obtain a professional license. If your family members depend on you for their living, the court will more likely expunge your records so you can seek a job to sustain your loved ones. You will, however, not be eligible for the expungement under the following situations:

  • When you are facing a current criminal offense.

  • If You are serving a sentence for a criminal conviction.

  • When you are serving probation after a current criminal offense.

Prop 47, Realignment and Expungement

According to California PC 1203.42, you can have expungement even when you serve state imprisonment. The statute allows you to file for expungement. Proposition 47 was passed in the year 2011. If you committed a crime past 2011 and served state imprisonment, you can still qualify for expungement. Note, expungement under PC 1203.42 is not guaranteed since it is the criminal court judge who has the discretion to grant. To grant the expungement, the judge considers several elements. For you to qualify for expungement under PC 1203.42, you must meet the following factors:

  • You served a county jail.

  • After completing the sentence, more than two years have passed.

  • You don't have any pending criminal cases or conviction.

After the court receives your application for PC 1203.42 and decides to award you the expungement, the judge will allow you to withdraw your previous plea and enter another not guilty plea. Also, when the court had previously convicted you after entering a not guilty plea, they will more likely set aside your past conviction. Regardless of the court's approach, your past criminal records will be expunged.

Limitations of Expungement (PC 1203.4)

Although expungement comes with many benefits, expungement cannot do certain things. For instance, an expungement will not impact revoked or suspended licenses. Also, an expungement will not restore your ability to own or possess a firearm. Again, the expungement will not impact the requirements you might have about registration as a sex offender. If you face any criminal conviction in the future, the court may consider the expungement during your trial. The court will also not remove the strike after an expungement.

What You Want to Do Before Expungement

Before you clean your criminal records, you must know what is in your records. For instance, when you are facing many convictions, the law recommends you know the following information:

  • The dates of your convictions.

  • The docket or case number.

  • The code name and the section number convicted with, for instance, VC 14601(a).

  • Whether the court had ordered you to serve probation and for how long.

  • Whether you entered a plea bargain.

  • The payments you made, including the restitution fee.

  • Whether you adhere to all the terms and the conditions of your probation.

  • Have information about the name of the prison where you served your sentence and the dates of your release.

You should possess a copy of your criminal records. Are you worried about where you should obtain these copies? Ensure you work with your criminal defense attorney to ensure you possess a copy of the required information. You can obtain these copies from the following sources:

  • Your probation expert, attorney, or parole officer.

  • The criminal court where your case trial took place.

  • The court papers which the court presented to you during your conviction.

  • The department of justice.

Expungement of Drug and Felony Records

In California, the law gives you a chance to expunge your felony or drug record once you fulfill the conditions and terms of your probation. It is recommended to finish your probation as per the court orders. The criminal court judges may decide to expunge your felony records even in instances where you violated the terms and conditions of the probation. When the court convicts you with a felony judge, the court must reduce the charge to a misdemeanor before deleting it. Reducing the charge to a misdemeanor will come with numerous benefits apart from the expungement.

Alternatively, if you face a drug charge, you become eligible for expungement once you fulfill the diversion program conditions ordered by the court. Therefore when you face conviction for a drug charge and fail to fulfill the program's conditions, the court will not delete your records. Other drug charges will not require you to expunge your criminal records. For example, when the court convicts you with possession of marijuana, they will automatically delete your records after twenty-four months.

Do You Expunge Your Infraction Records?

In California, all infraction convictions qualify for expungement. Like in felony cases, you must have finished the sentence, and you should not have any new cases. If the court did not issue probation, you would have to wait for at least 12 months from the sentencing date to apply for expungement. Infraction expungement comes with an added advantage compared to a felony or misdemeanor. After you erase your infraction records, you will be able to say the court has never convicted you. Therefore, if California's criminal court has ever convicted you, you need to expunge the records as soon as possible. However, remember to work closely with your criminal defense attorney. The attorney will help you know more about infraction expungement in the state.

The Process of Filing for Expungement

After understanding the meaning of expungement and whether you are eligible to apply, you want to take the necessary steps toward the application. The following are the steps you want to take to file for expungement:

  • Seek Legal Advice

To file for expungement, you want an attorney conversant with the California laws. The attorney will present you better in the expungement process. They will complete all the requirements for your application. Again, you are likely to have greater success in the process.

  • Obtain and Fill out Forms

Firstly, you need to determine the form you require. For example, if you want to erase misdemeanor charges and complete your probation, you wish to file a petition to expunge PC 1203.4. When you have not completed your probation period, you want to file a motion to terminate the probation. At times, the court may deny the motion to terminate your probation. When this happens, you want to file a petition for dismissal. You will file the petition for dismissal at the courthouse. However, if the form is not available at the courthouse, you can write your petition with the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney.

When looking to expunge a felony, you want to reduce your felony to a misdemeanor. For the court to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor, you must file a form under PC 17(b)(3). The form is mainly available at the courthouse, and your charges can be reduced by petitioning the court. After filing a petition, the court guarantees your request. Once the court reduces your felony charges to a misdemeanor, you can file a petition to reduce the misdemeanor under PC 1203.4.

You want to pick one copy of each form for conviction. You can also submit additional photocopies of the forms to the court. The other documents include written proof for completing your probation and character references. The additional documents will help strengthen your petition.

  • File for Expungement

After completing the necessary paperwork for your case, you can now file for expungement. In California, you require about four to five months to complete the expunging of a felony. You want to file the forms at the court in the county you faced conviction. If you're going to terminate probation or reduce a felony to a misdemeanor, you want to deliver the form in person to the clerk at the court.

You pay fees for filing the petition depending on whether the case is a felony or misdemeanor conviction. However, felony petition fees tend to be higher, and at times, they may be twice as much as a petition to dismiss a misdemeanor. You can check the costs on the court's website. You have to note that you can file a petition for expungement. The court will set a date for your hearing after filing your forms and petition.

  • Speak with Your Attorney and Prepare For the Hearing

You may be required to appear in court during your expungement hearing. Your attorney will help in preparing for your expungement hearing. You want to prepare enough to respond since, during the hearing, the judge will raise reasons to defend your petition. Again, you want to gather evidence pertinent to your case and prepare a statement to deliver in court.

  • Your Expungement Hearing

Hearings are held before the judge, and they usually take about ten minutes. During the hearing, you want to arrive on time and behave accordingly. The court will consider if you are eligible for expungement depending on the following:

  • Your charges.

  • If you have previous convictions.

  • Your ability to find a job.

  • The status of your parole.

  • Community involvement.

  • If Your Petition Is Accepted

If the court accepts your petition, you will receive a signed order from a California superior court judge. The order will document the dismissal of your case and charges. You must note that the public can still access your records unless you seal them after the dismissal.

  • If the Court Denies the Petition

When your petition is denied, you want to ask the judge why the denial and what you can do to have your petition accepted. After your petition is denied, you can refill it again after six months and have made the necessary changes.

Timeline for Applying PC 1203.4 Expungement

In California, you can apply for expungement after completing the probation for the conviction you want to delete or if you were granted early termination of your probation. You cannot apply for expungement right away after sentence. Again, expungement is not available for people serving sentences for a conviction.

It will take four months to handle your expungement case when allowed to file for expungement. However, the process may take longer depending on varied factors. The factors which influence how long an expungement takes include:

  • The complexity of your case.

  • If you are facing charges for a misdemeanor or a felony.

  • Presence of your case in the correct computer system.

  • The time between your conviction and when you filed an expungement.

  • Your probation report.

How Do You Complete Your Probation in California?

The judge may impose specific terms and conditions after the criminal court convicts you with a particular criminal offense. The court requires you to adhere to the conditions during your sentence period to ensure you are a lawful citizen on probation. The court restricts your rights against seizures and searches during the probation period. The conditions may include:

  • Attending mandatory classes.

  • Counseling and therapy classes.

  • Community service.

  • Drug treatment.

  • Paying restitution fees.

  • Regularly visiting a probation expert, among other conditions.

You complete the probation period when you serve the ordered term, observe the above conditions and avoid committing a new crime. What will happen when you violate the probation? You might file a motion before the court to convince them you are the right candidate for the expungement. However, it would be best to work closely with your criminal defense attorney. If you violated the probation, the criminal court judge has the discretion to deny you the expungement. The court will examine several factors, including:

  • Your criminal records.

  • Your general performance during the probation period.

  • The nature and severity of the offense.

  • Family support.

  • Community support.

  • Whether the consequences of the conviction will hinder you from securing a job in future.

Sealing Criminal Records vs. Expungement

Sealing records and expungement are two different things. Expungement deals with deleting your criminal records. Alternatively, sealing criminal records is all about sealing your arrest records. Therefore, when you want to delete all your records totally, you must apply for sealing your arrest records and expunging the criminal records. You are eligible for sealing your arrest records when:

  • The court dismissed your case.

  • The law enforcement officers arrested you, but you were never convicted.

  • The jury acquitted you.

  • The court overturned your conviction.

  • You completed a diversion program like drug abuse and alcohol class.

When you seal your arrest records, you may argue the police never arrested you. To seal your arrest records successfully, you require the legal services of your criminal defense attorney. The attorney will help you understand the relationship between sealing your arrest records and expungement.

Sealing Juvenile Records in California

In California, the law considers juvenile records criminal actions before the offender turns adulthood. The sealing process for juvenile offenders varies compared to sealing the arrest records of adult offenders. You might qualify to seal your juvenile criminal records when:

  • You are a grown-up(adult).

  • You do not have any pending litigation.

  • You do not have any conviction of severe charges like crimes involving immoral or dishonest behaviors.

  • The court terminated the case in question more than five years ago.

Once the criminal court judge grants you the petition to seal the juvenile records, the court will seal the records for three years and destroy them. Remember to work with your defense attorney to help you throughout the legal process. Sometimes, the legal process might be complicated, especially when it's your first time.

Why You Need to Expunge Your Criminal Records in California

The following are the key benefits associated with expungement:

Job Application

For many people in California, the main benefit of expunging criminal records is that they will be able to secure a job despite the criminal conviction. Today, many employers perform background checks before they hire an applicant. A background check usually shows the applicant's probation status, conviction, and arrests. Also, many employers will ask you whether you have ever faced a criminal conviction in the state.

A great benefit is you will be able to say no when an employer asks whether the law enforcement officers have ever arrested and convicted you of criminal offenses. Again, the law doesn't allow the employer to consider your expungement when deciding to employ them.

Credibility as a Criminal Court Witness

Another benefit of expungement is that your past criminal conviction cannot be used against you as a court witness. However, you might lose credibility when you have a pending criminal case. If you serve as a court witness and have a felony record, the defendant might file a motion to determine your credibility. But, the court will not permit them to do so when you have already expunged your criminal records. The benefit would help you enormously, especially when you are a court witness and your testimony is critical in determining the case outcome.

State License

It's more likely one day, you will require a state license. However, you might find it challenging if you have a criminal record. During the application for the state license, you must respond to the questions about your criminal convictions. If your criminal record has been expunged, the state will grant you the state license. It's also common for the state agencies to look if you successfully adhered to the terms and conditions of your probation.

Personal Satisfaction

After expungement, you will experience a great sense of relief. Expungement is a closure to a frustrating chapter in your life and a new beginning. Remember to work with your criminal defense attorney to enjoy this benefit.

Professional Organization

It's common for many professional organizations to perform background checks as they invite someone to hold a position. By expunging your criminal records, you will never have any doubts about background checks.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

Expungement gives you a new chapter in your life. Therefore, consider expunging the criminal records when the court convicts you over a criminal offense and successfully finishes your probation. Start by discussing the case with your criminal defense attorney.

Do you need legal help to expunge your criminal records in Anaheim, CA? At California Criminal Lawyer Group, our attorneys are ready to help you seal and expunge your criminal records. Our attorneys have helped countless people in California and across the US expunge their criminal records. Contact us at 714-766-0965, and we will help you expunge a criminal conviction and enjoy your freedom to do much, including seeking a better job.