If you have happened into any situation involving a crime, whether on purpose or an unfortunate case of wrong place, wrong time, you may have an arrest, crime, or infraction on your record. This record is available to the public, which means it can have an effect on your reputation, your career, and more.
In the U.S., part of our commitment to democracy involves a commitment to transparency. This is a founding reason for why we maintain a public record. The public record can include a range of documents that involve local, state, and federal governments, including how courts rule on cases over which they preside. Most documents that involve these decisions are part of the public record, which means any member of the public can request to view certain documents from the agency or department that oversees them.
Contrast this with confidential information, which we often think of in terms of state secrets and espionage movies. In this case, only certain parties who have already been cleared may access the information contains in confidential records. In a way, this is what a record expungement is – a legal process for preventing the general public from seeing an arrest, crime, or case that you were involved in.
Record Expungement Attorney is a team of legal professionals who specialize in obtaining expungements for all sorts of records. Our Riverside, California, location means we help people across Riverside and nearby cities seek to clear, clean, or hide their records from public view.
In this article, we are providing an overview of the various types of record expungements. The processes for and meanings of a record expungement varies widely from state to state and crime to crime, so this article is informational in nature. For specific feedback and legal counsel on your situation, speak with an experienced attorney today.
WHAT IS AN EXPUNGEMENT?
Contrary to some opinions, expungement is not petitioning the court to determine, after your criminal conviction, that in actuality you are not guilty of the crime. This is a very difficult path and one most lawyers may not recommend.
Instead, expungement is the process of petitioning the court to “set aside” your criminal record, a much easier or obtainable goal. With your criminal record expunged, it appears to most public entities that you were not convicted of such a crime. Your record will also change to show that the offense has been dismissed and will not note whether you had been convicted.
The only situation wherein the expunged crime may be known is within the California justice system. Some of the crimes that are eligible for expungements are also “priorable”. This means that even if your convicted was dismissed, it can be looked at and included in consideration for sentencing in the case that you are convicted of future crimes.
In most cases, when you seek an expungement, it is for a single specific criminal conviction, not for the entirety of your criminal record. Should you have three criminal convictions on your record, for instance, you would have to petition the court three separate times in order to seek expungement of all three convictions.
Expungements can apply to a range of convictions, including infractions, DUIs, misdemeanors, and felonies. Importantly, if you are seeking to remove an arrest, not a conviction, from your record, the process is not an expungement. Instead, you may seek a record sealing.
REASONS TO SEEK A RECORD EXPUNGEMENT
Pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1203.4a, people who have been convicted of crimes in California may be able to seek that these criminal convictions be expunged, or dismissed. Some reasons for this action can include:
- Realizing how significantly a criminal charge can affect parts of their lives, such as their career or employability, their reputation, and even their financial opportunities.
- Taking advantage of updates in the State of California’s expungements laws.
The benefits that come with a negative mark on your record can be huge. People who are found guilty of a crime, even a fairly innocuous misdemeanor, can have major difficulties finding a job. This is because the majority of companies submit potential employees to a criminal background check, which can turn up a number of findings, including simple arrests and infractions. Unfortunately, a majority of these companies do not provide the potential hire a reason to explain their record, resulting in a no-hire.
Obtaining an expungement also makes it easier for you to maintain your employment. Upon dismissal of a conviction, you no longer need to disclose your conviction at all (should an employer learn about it, it is illegal to use as knowledge when determining whether you should get a promotion, etc.).
DRAWBACKS TO EXPUNGEMENT
While record expungement offers many benefits, it does not rescind any penalties to your driving privileges that you accrued.
Furthermore, if your conviction relates to a felony crime, you will lose certain rights as a result of becoming a felon, including the right to vote and the right to bear arms. Should a court expunge, or dismiss, your felony crime, you earn some benefits but you will still lose the rights to vote and own a firearm as long as the crime and your sentencing had previously determined.
TYPES OF RECORD EXPUNGEMENTS
In California, you may seek a record expungement if you are convicted of particular types of crimes and you meet certain criteria. Unfortunately, not every crime can be expunged from your record, in particular certain felony crimes and certain crimes related to sex, lewd acts, or pornography with children.
To qualify for petitioning the court for an infraction expungement, you must meet all of the following conditions:
- Your conviction date must have occurred at least one year ago.
- You must have successfully fulfilled all requirements of your probation, including paying any and all restitution and court fees related to your case.
- You must not be serving currently any sentence for any other conviction.
CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS THAT CANNOT BE EXPUNGED OR DISMISSED
The State of California’s Penal Code 1203.4 indicates that your conviction cannot be expunged if any of the following conditions exist:
- You were convicted of a felony crime (that is, a crime more serious than a misdemeanor) and were imprisoned in a state prison (not a county jail) or otherwise put under the authority of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
- You are currently under probation. (In this situation, you must successfully fulfill all terms of your probation before seeking an expungement of your criminal records.)
- You are convicted of any of the following criminal offenses:
- Crimes related to child pornography
- Crimes related to specific sexual assaults
- Crimes involving lewd acts with a minor
- Failure to submit to or otherwise allow your vehicle to be inspected by police
CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS THAT MAY BE EXPUNGED OR DISMISSED
If you do need meet any of the above conditions, you are likely eligible to request the court to expunge, or dismiss, your record. If your sentence or punishment involved serving county jail time, probation, a fine, or any combination of those three types – without being sentenced to state prison – you may make a request for record expungement.
CALIFORNIA DUI RECORD EXPUNGEMENTS
If you’ve been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in California, you may be eligible to seek a record expungement as long as you meet the following conditions:
- You successfully completed your probation related to your DUI offense, and
- You either did not service time in state prison (different from county jail) or you served time in state prison but it counted as serving within a county jail due to realignment laws.
Upon the completing the above conditions, you may immediately choose to petition the court to expunge your record of this DUI conviction. Should the court grant your petition, two outcomes are possible:
- You must withdraw your plea of guilty or no content (known formally as “nolo contendere”) and re-enter your plea as not guilty, or
- The judge sets aside your verdict if your guilt was determined by a jury or bench trial.
After this, the court dismisses your case. Importantly, a DUI expungement has no bearing or effect on the following situations:
- The suspension or revocation of your driver’s license is still upheld. (Though your prior completed probation likely lastly longer than the suspension, but not revocation, of your driver’s license.)
- DUI penalties are “priorable” offenses, which means the court will use them to determine your penalty should you be convicted of additional DUI crimes. Each DUI crime leads to an increased, accumulated punishment within a 10-year window.
- Disclosing your conviction is still required in order to obtain state licenses and teaching credentials. Your conviction can be used in whether to grant or renew these licenses and credentials, though an expungement can be beneficial.
CALIFORNIA CRIMINAL RECORD EXPUNGEMENTS
Clearing or expunging your criminal record may be possible, but it can be a confusing and complicated process.
CALIFORNIA FELONY RECORD EXPUNGEMENTS
The process of felony expungement requires an additional step beyond the misdemeanor criminal record expungement.
- You must petition the court first to reduce your felony to a misdemeanor.
- Upon reduction, if the court grants it, you can then petition to for an expungement of your misdemeanor crime.
CALIFORNIA MISDEMEANOR RECORD EXPUNGEMENTS
If you were convicted of a misdemeanor and you have completed any sentence or punishment associated with it as well as served your probation, you attorney can request the court to expunge your conviction following the court’s procedure.
CALIFORNIA INFRACTION RECORD EXPUNGEMENTS
Those convicted of various infractions in California may be able to seek an expungement of those crimes. Infractions that may qualify for record expungements can include the following:
- Simple traffic violations
- Petty theft
- Illegal purchase of alcohol
- Marijuana possession
- Disturbing the peace
- Failure to appear in court
CALIFORNIA ARREST SEALING RECORD EXPUNGEMENTS
The State of California provides you the right to have records sealed that show you were arrested but not charged with or ultimately convicted of a crime. In fact, California arrest records are sealed automatically, a legal term known as “a matter of right”, as long as they meet specific conditions. This automatic sealing means the person need not petition the courts for the sealing. This law, passed in 2017, is codified in a few California Penal Code sections, including Section 851.87.
Situations that qualify for an automatic arrest record sealing include:
- No criminal charges were filed against you
- Criminal charges were filed against you, but later dismissed
- You were acquitted (found not guilty) in a jury trial
- Your conviction was vacation or overturned by appeal
- You completed a pre-trial or pre-sentencing program, such as:
- Prop 36 drug treatment
- Penal Code 1000 deferred entry of judgment
The new law does have a few exceptions. Particularly, people who have a history of arrests or convictions for child abuse, elder abuse, or domestic violence are not eligible for arrest record sealing automatically (as a matter of right). However, a judge can decide otherwise if deemed worthy of justice.
FACT CHECKING RECORD EXPUNGEMENT IN CALIFORNIA
A court-ordered expungement means you were never guilty of the crime of which you were convicted. An expungement simply means your public records do not indicate you committed a crime.
Once a court orders an expungement, my entire criminal history is dismissed.
You can have an arrest removed from public view. In some cases, you may be arrested, but never formally charged with a crime. Or, you may be charged with a crime but then your case may be dismissed or acquitted (determined not guilty). In these cases, only an arrest will appear on your public record. But by seeking a record sealing, you can hide this information from the public, including potential employers.
Many types of records can be expunged in California. Records can include arrests as well as convictions of specific crimes, such as DUIs, misdemeanors, felonies, and even minor infractions.
If you’re ready to clean your criminal record, contact Riverside Expungement Attorney today at 951-916-9248. We work with individuals across the Inland Empire to restore your reputation and employability by seeking appropriate record sealing or expungements. We’re ready to work for you.