TO EXPUNGE OR NOT TO EXPUNGE? THAT IS THE QUESTION.
The answer is yes. But, why?
You have put your small lapse in judgment behind you. Yes, you were convicted of a crime. It might have been a misdemeanor or felony, and you successfully completed the entire period of probation. You have heard people talk about expunging your record. Maybe your lawyer mentioned it. Maybe someone else said something about erasing or sealing your criminal history. Here in California, we can only seal arrest records for juveniles after they turn eighteen and are crime free. As for adults, there is no such thing as erasing a criminal record but, under Penal Code Section 1203 we can expunge many criminal convictions, including DUI’s.
If you successfully complete probation for the entire period thereof, you can ask the court to allow you to withdraw your guilty/no contest plea and set aside a past conviction. If your request is granted by the court, the court sends notice of the proceeding to the County, State, and Department of Motor Vehicles.
Most all misdemeanors can be expunged. As for felonies, if probation is granted and execution of sentence is not suspended, most felonies can be expunged as well. Additionally, some felonies can be reduced to misdemeanors first and then expunged.
Most courts charge a small fee to file the required paperwork. The cost to hire an attorney will likely run between $500 and $3,500 dollars. Factors will depend upon whether the case was a misdemeanor or a felony, if a motion needs to be made to reduce the case to a misdemeanor or if a request must be made to terminate probation early.
Prior to filing the documents they must be served upon the appropriate prosecutor, giving them proper notice of any court hearing. There may be additional costs for service of documents.
If your conviction is successfully expunged, this allows you to honestly tell people that you have never been arrested or convicted of a crime. For example, if you are filling out a job application and one of the questions asks, “have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor”, or “have you ever been arrested”: you can say “no”. Please note that some exceptions do apply. This response does not apply to questions by law enforcement, any state licensing agencies or the state lottery.
When your conviction is expunged, the clerk of the court is ordered to give notice to local and state officials to make changes to the official arrest and conviction records, instructing them to reflect that the conviction has been expunged. Court clerks are further ordered not to disclose conviction records of cases which have been expunged. Here again there are exceptions: law enforcement and governmental entities will always have access to the conviction records.
As usual, there is some bad news. Some convictions can still be used against you even after they have been expunged. For example: prior DUI convictions as far back as ten years old can still be used to increase punishment in a subsequent DUI case. Some theft offenses and prostitution cases and even driving on a suspended license are all examples of prior able offenses. This means that even if these cases are expunged, they can still be used against you.
Recent changes in California law allow some felonies and infractions to be expunged. Please call us today to find out if you may benefit from the changes in the law. Any infraction can now be expunged. Please take advantage of this. Were you convicted of Penal Code Section 490.1? You can now expunge that theft conviction.
Under the new re-alignment law, any felony where the sentence is served in county jail can be expunged. That’s right, if you were convicted of a felony and sentenced to a prison sentence which you served in county jail or a split sentence, you can expunge that conviction too. Call us today.
Please note: Jeffrey Vallens is a lawyer, licensed to practice law in the State of California. This article pertains to the current state of California law. Laws in other states are different, so call me or check with a local lawyer for specific cases.