Seal & Destroy Your Arrest Records - A new California law allows people who were arrested but never convicted to have their California arrest records sealed as a matter of right (automatically). Sealing an arrest means the record will not show up on most criminal background checks in California, other than to law enforcement.
In California, record expungement and a number of other actions such as record clearing, reduction of felony convictions to misdemeanors, getting a certificate of rehabilitation, or obtaining a governor's pardon can positively affect your past police record and open up new opportunities in life. Specifically, expungement and certain similar actions can often help you get a better job, get approved for college enrollment, or allow you to apply for and obtain a state of California issued professional license.
At Record Expungement Attorney, we are deeply experienced in expungement and other relevant processes that can help "clear up" your record. We understand California law on these matters down to the legal minutia, and we have longtime experience in walking clients through these complex processes step by step to a successful conclusion.
If you are interested in expungement, arrest record clearing, or another process that can reduce or eliminate the continuing negative impacts of past arrests and/or criminal convictions, do not hesitate to contact us by calling 951-916-9248. We are standing by 24/7 to take your call for help and get you started on the path to a better future that's no longer hindered by the past.
What Is Record Expungement Under California Law?
Having a criminal record of any kind puts you at a huge disadvantage when competing for a job position with those who do not - and there are many other hindrances that a past police record imposes as one seeks to live out his or her life and improve his or her lot in it.
Record expungement exists because it is thought unfair that those who have paid the penalty for their crimes, gone for years without any new convictions, and may perhaps even have been wrongly convicted to begin with, should have to live out their entire life at a severe disadvantage caused by a police record.
Expungement is a process whereby a qualifying past criminal conviction can be dismissed. It replaces the entry on your police record that once said "convicted of" with "dismissed."
It does not erase or destroy the record or make a "blank" show up if a background check is run on you, but it simply shows that the case has now been "expunged" or "dismissed" and can therefore not legally be a basis for refusing to hire you for a job you apply for.
You do not have to say "yes" if asked if you were ever convicted in regard to an expunged offense. And employers are not allowed to ask you about an expunged offense any more than about an arrest that never led to a conviction.
There are a few types of jobs, like law enforcement positions, public servants, and state lotto workers, where your expungement will not prevent a conviction record coming up on a background check. But for the most part, expungement clears away the roadblock that a past conviction has often become.
What Expungement Can and Cannot Do
California Penal Code Section 1203.4 provides for the ability to expunge a past criminal conviction from one's record. And while expungement is highly desirable, it's also important to go into the expungement process fully aware of what exactly expungement can and cannot do.
With expungement, your case is technically reopened, the guilty plea or guilty verdict removed, and a dismissal put in its place. Thus, as mentioned above, while expungement cleans up your record, it does not simply "erase" it so that nothing at all comes up in a background check. For that, you would need record clearing, a different process, which we'll look at in a later section on this page.
Expungement cannot restore lost firearm rights due to a felony conviction, although there are ways of going about doing that as well.
Expungement does not cancel one's obligation to register as a sex offender. Only a certificate of rehabilitation (COR) and a pardon from the governor can do that - and even that won't cancel the obligation if the sex crime was against a minor.
There are certain types of offenses, including sex crimes against a child, murder, and some of the most violent crimes on the books that can never be expunged.
A felony generally has to be first reduced to a misdemeanor through a "sentence reduction" process before it can be expunged. And only wobbler offenses that could have been charged as either a misdemeanor or felony are eligible for such reduction.
BUT, if you were convicted of felony that would have been (arguably at least) a misdemeanor before Realignment, when many California crimes were given different statuses and sentences, then that can be another basis for obtaining a sentence reduction, which can pave the way for an expungement.
An expungement can help your chances of getting approved for a state-issued professional license and gaining membership in professional organizations. But, often, you need a certificate of rehabilitation as well, though the requirements vary quite a bit from board to board and agency to agency.
An expunged record permits you to say "no" you were not convicted of it on most application forms, but not on most professional license applications and not if you're applying for a police job, a California state lotto worker position, or a public office (or running for an elected office.)
Expungement can also often (though not automatically) prevent negative immigration consequences stemming from a past criminal conviction, including deportation or the inability to get a LPR (lawful permanent resident) status or apply for US citizenship.
Who Is Eligible for Record Expungement?
Record expungement in California is not an automatic right, but you have to qualify. More specifically, the particular offense you want expunged has to measure up to various eligibility requirements as well as the individual him or her self.
You can seek expungement of felonies, misdemeanors, or even infractions. Many times, however, a felony conviction has to first be reduced to a misdemeanor before it qualifies for expungement.
If your conviction was in a federal court, it cannot be expunged. If you spent actual time in state prison for it, it also will not qualify.
You also must have fulfilled your sentence, paid all fines and restitution monies, and successfully completed any probationary period imposed for the offense you want expunged.
Spending time in county jail does not disqualify you, however. And you can petition to have your probation terminated early at the same time you petition for expungement. This often speeds up the process, but you'll likely have to have abode by your probationary terms well (if not 100% perfectly) before the judge will agree to early termination of probation.
Also, if you are currently facing new criminal charges or if you were convicted of another offense after the one you want expunged, you won't qualify - UNLESS you are able to expunge multiple offenses simultaneously, which is possible though it's a longer, more complex process.
Also, note there are some circumstances in which an expungement is not needed. If you have completed a diversion program or a deferred entry of judgment program, your case will already show as dismissed on background checks.
Or, if you were arrested but never charged, or charged but never convicted, you might seek arrest record clearing, but there's not conviction to expunge.
And finally, if you were convicted of simple possession of marijuana from 1976 and forward, the conviction will automatically be erased from your record after 2 years. Note that possession for sale, sale and transport, and more aggravated marijuana convictions are not handled in this way. We at Record Expungement Attorney can help you verify your marijuana possession conviction is off the record once two years has gone by.
We can assess your case to determine if you will be eligible for expungement. If you qualify, we will determine the most efficient path forward in effecting the expungement. If you don't, we can see what other actions you might qualify for that will improve your record or if there are any specific ways you can make adjustments so as to qualify for expungement in the future.
How Does the Expungement Process Work?
There is a considerable amount of paperwork and legal "red tape" that has to be completed in order to successfully file a petition for an expungement and get it approved.
All the information asked for on the relevant forms must be provided and be 100% accurate - and some of this information is hard to obtain as it is held in police records. A good lawyer, however, can assemble all the needful data relatively quickly.
Also, there are filing deadlines, and you have to file for each expungement in the correct courthouse.
Any missteps can cause delays or even get an expungement petition denied. So, it's never a good idea to try to handle the process on your own and risk having start all over again and pay the filing fee a second time.
Once we assess your situation and determine you are eligible for expungement, the next step is to do the necessary legal research and waste no time in filing your petition. By acting swiftly and with precision, we can usually get your case successfully completed within 30 to 60 days. It depends on the specifics of the case, but it's uncommon for there to be more than two months between filing for expungement and having the signed court order in your hand that says your case is now to be dismissed.
The filing fee, or equivalent fee, for an expungement ranges from $60 to $270, depending on which county you file in and whether it's a felony or misdemeanor expungement. In L.A. County, the fee is not normally over $120 at present. Note that if you lack the funds to pay the filing fee, we can help you qualify for a county financial assistance program.
Your expungement petition may or may not be challenged by the agency that prosecuted your case or by the DA, but if it is, you will be in even greater need of expert representation when it comes time for the expungement hearing, where the presiding judge will decide your case.
In most instances, you do not have to physically appear in court, though you can if you wish. We can represent you throughout the entire hearing and the whole expungement process, so personal appearance is not generally required.
But we will discuss you case with you in great detail as we go over the paperwork and over the oral arguments we plan to present in your behalf in court. It has to be your decisions and statements we are ultimately representing at the hearing, so you need to be aware of and approve of all we do.
The hearing is the time to present specific arguments and evidences as to why you should be allowed to have your past conviction expunged from the record. We will show that you meet all eligibility requirements and counter any foreseeable objections the prosecution may try to make.
We at Record Expungement Attorney have a long and strong track record of winning at expungement hearings for our clients. But as it's at the judge's sole discretion whether to ultimately grant expungement, nothing is ever guaranteed. If an expungement were to be denied, we can get the specific reasons from the judge so it's possible to make any adjustments and to refile after 6 months.
Record Sealing Services & More
Aside from expungements, we at Record Expungement Attorney also handle a number of similar but importantly different legal processes, including record sealing.
Criminal Record Sealing
A criminal record can be petitioned to be sealed and, ultimately, destroyed. That is the most complete form of record sealing - and it is nearly always contested in court. In order to obtain this type of record sealing, you would need to demonstrate innocence and then obtain a "certificate of factual innocence." To obtain that, you must demonstrate that no reasonable person would believe you were guilty of the alleged offense, given the evidence at hand - a very high burden of proof to meet.
If you prevail in the hearing, the police report, booking and arrest record, and everything else will be destroyed. It will be as if the incident involving and following from the arrest had never happened at all.
Juvenile Record Sealing
Secondly, record clearing is very commonly done for those with a juvenile record. Once you are an adult, or for certain offenses, once you've been out from under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court for at least 5 years, you can apply to have your juvenile record sealed and destroyed within 3 years of being sealed.
But even with juvenile offenses, crimes of "moral turpitude," and violent offenses like murder, robbery, or child molestation cannot be sealed or destroyed from the record.
Arrest Record Sealing
Third, it is possible (and common since 2017 when new rules were introduced in California) to have an arrest record sealed. If you were arrested but never charged, you have to wait for the statute of limitations to run out (when you can no longer be charged) before filing. If you were arrested but acquitted or the case was dismissed, you are eligible to file for arrest record sealing.
If you get a certificate of factual innocence, the arrest record will automatically be sealed and then destroyed 3 years later.
We can file to have your arrest record sealed if you qualify and/or if the statute of limitations has expired. But certain high level crimes, such as murder, have no statute of limitations - so the arrest record for them can never be sealed. And if you are found to have evaded police so as to prevent a charge being made, especially if you fled California for that purpose, then the statute of limitations will be "tolled" for the relevant amount of time.
Certificate of Detainment
A fourth way to improve your record is to get a certificate of detainment, which is a signed statement from the arresting agency that you were not technically "arrested" but only "detained" by police.
While the difference between an arrest and a detainment is murky in many instances, the official legal difference is established by a certificate of detainment - and this can make a big difference sometimes when applying for certain professional licenses in California.
Certificate of Rehabilitation
A fifth option is to seek a certificate of rehabilitation (COR) stating that in the opinion of the court, you have been rehabilitated from your prior criminal ways. This certificate will ensure that a message is sent to potential employers who run a background check on you saying you have been rehabilitated from the specific offense(s) for which you were convicted. But it will not expunge, erase, or seal the record.
A COR bars state agencies from denying you a professional license based on an offense you were convicted for but from which you are now rehabilitated. Plus, when you get a COR, you automatically apply for a governor's pardon.
In a limited number of situations, a COR can cancel the requirement to register as a sex offender - but more often it cannot. It depends on the nature of the sex offense.
To get a COR, you must have been a California resident for three or more years. You must also wait from 7 to 10 years after being released from custody (including probation or parole) before you can apply.
A governor's pardon will restore many rights and privileges lost due to a criminal conviction. It does not do all the same things as expungement or record clearing, however, so you should seek those in conjunction with a pardon.
Plus, pardons are relatively rare and seem to be becoming even rarer. Nonetheless, there are people pardoned in California every year, and if you meet certain eligibility requirements and the governor decides to pardon you, it will do much to improve your record and remove hindrances to employment and other plans you may have in life.
You can seek a direct pardon by applying to the governor's office. That approach is usually used by those now living out of state, however.
In other instances, a pardon is file for (sometimes automatically) after receiving other record-improving actions like a certificate of factual innocence or a certificate of rehabilitation.
In most cases, you have to wait 10 years before you can apply for a pardon, but in some cases, you can apply after only 7 years.
Why Choose Us?
Record Expungement Attorney has a longstanding, positive reputation in Riverside, CA, and in other communities throughout Southern California. We have been there for local residents for many years, consistently winning their expungement and other petitions to improve their past police record.
Our long list of satisfied clients, our consistently positive reviews online, the large percentage of new clients we get on referral from past ones, and our high ratings by the BBB and by professional legal standard-setting organizations all speak for themselves.
The bottom line of why you should choose Record Expungement Attorney is that we've helped numerous others in Riverside, the L.A. Area, and beyond "clean up" their records - and we will be able to do the same for you.
We have literally decades of combined legal experience in expungement and other similar practice areas on staff here at Record Expungement Attorney. We combine both deep knowledge of the intricacies of relevant California laws, with local, practical experience in the courtroom and on working cases all the way through to successful conclusions.
Aside from a deeper level of expertise and an unmatched success rate, a second reason to choose us is that we get the job done more efficiently than our competition. We know how to move quickly, and do multiple legal actions simultaneously or in very short space of time, in order to speed up the process as much as possible.
And if you are getting ready to apply for a new job, a professional license, college enrollment, or other major life decisions - getting your record expunged faster can sometimes make a big difference.
We take the time to give you personalized, customized attention, and to communicate with you every step of the way. We make sure you understand your options and the likely results of different approaches you could take, and then let you make the final decision.
We always treat you with respect, dignity, and true professionalism. And all our meetings with you will uphold full confidentiality.
Finally, we keep ourselves always readily available with 24/7/365 phone lines and free initial consultations. And we also keep ourselves affordably and competitively priced.
Contact Us Today for Immediate Help!
At Record Expungement Attorney, we have the expertise it takes to assist you in applying for a California expungement, record clearing action, and a number of other related legal actions that can "clean up " your past police record.
If you want to put the past behind you and prevent background checks from severely limiting your job and other opportunities in life, we can help! Contact us today by calling 951-916-9248for a free, no obligation initial consultation.