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Blog4 Benefits of Expungement in California

If you have been charged with a crime in the State of California, you will still have a criminal record which can be viewed by members of the general public. This is true even if you were never convicted. Fortunately, however, California law allows for some criminal charges to be removed for a person's criminal record, offering them a clean slate. Expungement means that a guilty plea or conviction on a person’s criminal record is withdrawn. It is then replaced with a not-guilty plea, after which the court dismisses the criminal case.

While California criminal courts routinely grant expungements, not every criminal conviction is eligible for expungement. If you have been charged or convicted of a crime, the experienced California criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of David S. Chesley will be able to determine if you are eligible to have your record expunged. To schedule a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, call us today at 1-800-755-5174 or contact us online.

Qualifying for a Criminal Records Expungement in California

In order to apply for a criminal records expungement in California, you must first meet certain criteria. Those criteria include the following:

  • You must not be serving a term of probation when you are petitioning the court for expungement.
  • You must not have been charged with any other crime.
  • The crime which you want to be expunged must have been a misdemeanor or a felony which could have been prosecuted as a misdemeanor.

If the charge you want to be expunged was a felony charge that resulted in a period of incarceration, you do not qualify for a records expungement. The same is likely true if the underlying crime involved a sexual offense perpetrated against a minor or a motor vehicle violation which caused two or more points to be added to your driving record.

Moreover, in order for your criminal record to qualify for expungement, you must have paid all court-ordered fines and restitution for the underlying offense.

Expunging a Felony Conviction

The only felonies eligible for expungement in California are “wobbler” charges. In a nutshell, these are felony charges which could have been prosecuted as misdemeanors under the law. In order to expunge a “wobbler” charge from your criminal record, you must ask the court to reduce the charge at issue from a felony to a misdemeanor. In most cases, if the offender can prove to the sentencing judge that he or she has taken responsibility for all criminal actions and has successfully rehabilitated, the judge will likely grant the charge reduction petition and reduce the charge to a misdemeanor. In that case, the charge will be eligible for expungement and dismissal.

In the case of other felony convictions, the expungement process depends upon whether the defendant was sentenced to jail time and probation versus a state prison sentence. In the latter case, the defendant can only obtain a dismissal if he or she has lived in the same county for a period of five years. The defendant must also file a petition and prove to the judge that he or she is trying to change for the better.

Cost of a Records Expungement

Expunging a criminal record in California can cost anywhere from $100 up to about $400. The exact amount of the fee depends upon the courthouse where the defendant files his or her expungement petition. If you hire an attorney to help you expunge your record, the fee will likely be higher. At The Law Offices of David S. Chesley, our California criminal defense lawyers will work with you to provide a plan for expungement services that is affordable and meets your needs.

Benefits of a Criminal Records Expungement

There are significant benefits associated with expunging a criminal record. Those benefits include the following:

  • Helping you find a good job – Criminal background checks on prospective employees are becoming more and more common among employers. A criminal background check on a prospective employee will reveal all of the job applicant’s prior convictions, as well as prior arrests. The background check will also show whether or not the job applicant has ever been placed on a period of criminal probation. Also, during job interviews, most employers will ask a prospective employee if he or she has ever been convicted of a crime in the past. A records expungement allows a prospective employee to answer "no" to that question truthfully. Moreover, employers may not consider an expunged conviction revealed as part of a background check when making a hiring decision.
  • Helping you obtain a state license – Many professions, including the legal profession and the medical profession, require a state license in order to practice. The same is true for contractors and real estate professionals. Even if your record is successfully expunged, you must still disclose your prior conviction in response to any question asking for this information – including an application to hold public office. However, many state licensing agencies will overlook a prior conviction if it was successfully expunged from an applicant’s criminal record.
  • Helping you become a member of a professional organization – Similar to employers, many professional organizations perform criminal background checks on prospective members. However, a criminal records expungement helps to lessen the impact of any prior conviction and makes it more likely that the applicant will be offered the position or seat in a professional organization.
  • Helping you in court – In civil trials, if you are on the witness stand, the opposing attorney cannot use a prior expunged conviction to bring your credibility as a witness into question. In a civil case, such as a personal injury case, this expungement benefit may help you, since your personal testimony can be extremely important o the outcome of your case. In a criminal case, however, opposing counsel may be able to bring up a prior expunged conviction at trial in order to call your credibility (i.e. your propensity for truthfulness or untruthfulness) into question.

Interested in Expungement? Call a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you are trying to obtain a records expungement in a California criminal case, having an experienced lawyer on your side can make all the difference. An experienced lawyer can first review all of the circumstances which are pertinent to your charge or conviction and determine whether or not you are eligible for a criminal records expungement. A lawyer can also help you complete all of the necessary paperwork to help you petition the court for a charge reduction (i.e. reducing a felony down to a misdemeanor), if necessary, as well as obtain a records expungement. Finally, a lawyer can represent you throughout your expungement proceedings and can attend any courtroom proceedings with you.

A records expungement can provide you with a sense of relief and will allow you to move on with your life. If you are interested in learning more about a criminal records expungement in California, you should contact the skilled legal team at The Law Offices of David S. Chesley. Our team has successfully pursued hundreds of records expungement cases and is ready to review your case today.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a California criminal defense lawyer, please call us today at 1-800-755-5174, or contact us online.