Having a criminal conviction on your record can affect more aspects of your life than you might think. Not only can it interfere with your ability to obtain employment, it can also get you turned down from the school you want to go to or get your housing rental application denied. If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense in Los Angeles, and you think you may qualify to have your record expunged, contact Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today at (213) 205-3100. Our attorneys have extensive experience protecting the rights of individuals arrested for and charged with all types of criminal offenses, and we can help guide you through the process of getting your conviction dismissed through expungement. California expungement can be complicated and confusing, but with the help of a skilled and aggressive criminal defense attorney, you can significantly improve your chances of a favorable outcome in your case.
Affordable Expungement Attorney in Los Angeles
The state of California takes a relatively lenient approach to expungements, and in some cases, even a serious felony conviction can be expunged from a person’s record. Still, it is a good idea to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side when trying to get your record expunged. For example, one requirement of California expungement laws is that the individual must have successfully completed all of the conditions of his or her probation in order to get a conviction expunged. However, even those who violated the terms of their probation may be able to get their conviction dismissed by the court, depending on the severity of the underlying conviction, the individual’s overall performance during the probation period, and his or her criminal record. These are things that an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney would know, and that is why having a skilled and aggressive lawyer on your side when seeking conviction expungement is imperative. Contact our legal team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today for a free initial expungement consultation.
Under Penal Code Penal Code § 1203.4 PC, California’s expungement statute, it is possible for an individual with a criminal conviction to have the conviction expunged, or dismissed. Considered a form of post-conviction relief, an expungement provides a second chance for those who have completed their probation and have not served any time in prison. There is typically no waiting period for expungement, so as soon as you have completed the terms of your probation, you can file a petition to have your record expunged. If you are not eligible for expungement, you may qualify for a seal-and-destroy procedure, or your attorney may be able to file a motion for early discharge or a motion to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor offense.
Who is Eligible for Expungement Under Penal Code § 1203.4?
Defendants convicted of either misdemeanor or felony offenses are eligible for conviction expungement in California, so long as they: have successfully completed the terms of their probation; and either did not serve time in California state prison for the offense, or served time in prison but would have served it in a county jail instead had the offense been committed after the passage of Proposition 47. Proposition 47 is a law that California voters passed in 2014 to reduce the criminal penalties associated with certain drug and theft crimes. Most importantly, the law changed several criminal offenses that were previously charged as felonies or “wobblers” (crimes that could be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor offense at the discretion of the prosecution) and made them misdemeanors. This meant that individuals facing felony penalties for these crimes could apply to a judge for resentencing and it would be as if they were convicted of a misdemeanor, rather than a felony. Under Prop 47, the following California crimes were changed to misdemeanor offenses under certain circumstances:
Keep in mind that you may not be eligible for expungement in California if you are currently charged with a criminal offense, are serving a sentence for a criminal offense, or are on probation for a criminal offense. You are also not eligible for expungement if you were convicted of certain sex crimes involving children, including the following:
How is Expungement Different from Sealing and Destroying Records?
When researching how to clear their criminal record, some people confuse expunging records of criminal convictions under California Penal Code § 1203.4 PC and sealing and destroying arrest records under California Penal Code § 851.87 PC. According to Penal Code § 851.87 PC, a person may be eligible to have an arrest record sealed and destroyed under the following circumstances:
- They were arrested but criminal charges were never filed
- The case was dismissed in court
- Their conviction was overturned and dismissed on appeal
- They were acquitted by a jury
- They successfully completed a diversion program
Having an arrest record sealed and destroyed means the judge has declared the individual factually innocent and from that point on, the person can state that he or she has never been arrested for a crime. The difference between this law and expungement is that only arrests that did not result in a conviction can be sealed and destroyed under Penal Code § 851.87 PC. Individuals who have been convicted of a criminal offense would have to seek expungement under Penal Code § 1203.4 PC.
How Does an Expungement Work?
Under California Penal Code § 1203.4 PC, an expungement releases eligible individuals from virtually all of the negative consequences associated with their criminal conviction, and because of how important this process is, it is recommended that a criminal defense attorney be consulted during this process. There are a number of steps that must be followed before the court will grant you an expungement, and this includes your lawyer filing the appropriate paperwork and representing you at the expungement. If the judge grants your petition for expungement, he or she will void the prior conviction, and/or you will withdraw your prior guilty plea. You will then plead “not guilty” and the judge will effectively dismiss the case.
What are the Benefits of an Expungement?
In the past, your criminal record was really only discoverable by law enforcement officers, but now everyone’s criminal history is easily accessible in online databases, and simply by running a background check, anyone interested in your criminal record can find out about your conviction. One of the most significant benefits associated with an expungement is that individuals with an expunged conviction are not required to disclose the conviction to potential employers, which means, if you get your record expunged, the employer cannot discriminate against you in selecting a job applicant. An expungement can also make it easier to obtain professional licensing and, in some cases, can help individuals who aren’t U.S. citizens avoid deportation and other immigration consequences. Furthermore, expunged convictions cannot be used to impeach an individual’s credibility as a witness in court.
It is important to keep in mind that a California expungement isn’t a cure-all for those convicted of criminal offenses. There are several restrictions on what an expungement under Penal Code § 1203.4 PC can do, including the following:
- It cannot reverse a driver’s license suspension or revocation
- It cannot terminate a sex offender registration requirement under Penal Code § 290 PC
- It cannot restore California gun rights under Penal Code § 29800 PC
The most significant limitations of conviction expungement are in terms of prosecuting subsequent offenses and for sentencing purposes. For example, even after it is expunged, a criminal conviction can still be used as a “prior conviction” to enhance sentencing for a later criminal offense, such as a subsequent DUI arrest. Also, an expunged conviction that would be considered a strike offense under California’s “Three Strikes” sentencing law would still be counted towards those three strikes.
Hiring a Knowledgeable Expungement Attorney in Los Angeles
Finding a reputable job and quality housing in a good neighborhood is harder than ever, and having a criminal conviction on your record can make it even more difficult to get hired for a job or approved to rent a house, and it can also ruin your reputation and affect your ability to obtain or maintain professional licensing. Fortunately, under California’s expungement laws, individuals convicted of certain misdemeanor and felony offenses can have the penalties arising out of their conviction dismissed, which means you would then legally be able to state that you have a clean criminal record. Getting your criminal record expunged can give you the fresh start you need to get your life back on track. Contact our knowledgeable expungement attorneys at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today to find out if you are eligible for expungement under Penal Code § 1203.4 PC.