Clear Criminal Record to Find Employment. In California, an expungement is the legal method to clear your criminal record. An expungement has its basis in California Penal Code 12o3.4, and if granted by the Court, allows you certain liberties which make it easier to find employment, such as allowing you to not disclose an expunged conviction if asked about it (see below for the three exceptions to this rule, however).
Clear Criminal Record – Why should I do it?
The purpose of PC 1203.4 is to to release you of all “penalties and liabilities of the offense,” as stated explicitly in the law.
There are at least a few reasons why you may want to consider getting your record expunged:
- An employer can discriminate against you if you have a past criminal conviction that has NOT been expunged;
- In most cases you don’t have to disclose an expunged conviction (see exceptions below);
- An expungement will remove travel restrictions to certain countries, such as Canada;
- You will remove the stigma of being a “convicted criminal.”
Three Exceptions to Non-Disclosure
There are three exceptions to the non-disclosure rule, or in other words, these are the times you must disclose a past criminal conviction – even if it has been expunged – when asked about it:
- You are applying for licensure by a State agency (e.g. accountant, contractor, nurse, attorney) – MOST COMMON;
- You are applying for public office;
- You are contracting with the California State Lottery Commission.
As expungement lawyers, we’ve opened up many opportunities for our clients that, due to their criminal records, would have otherwise been unavailable to them.
Clearing your criminal record can achieve extremely rewarding results, but not every case is eligible for an expungement. Read below for the process to clear your criminal record in California.
Clear Criminal Record – The Process
Step #1 – Determine Whether You’re Eligible to Clear Criminal Record
Certain Offenses Prohibited – Not every criminal conviction can be expunged from your criminal record. There are certain types of offenses that Penal Code 1203.4 says cannot be expunged. Most of these are felony sex crimes, and there are a few misdemeanors involving sex with minors that are also ineligible.
Ineligible if Served Time in Prison – If you served time in prison or in jail under AB 109 re-alignment as a result of your conviction (applies to felonies only), then this will bar you from a felony expungement.
Step #2 – Draft Your Motion to Clear Criminal Record
Even though you may be eligible to clear your criminal record, this doesn’t mean an expungement will simply be handed out to you.
There are very specific rules on how to ask the court to grant the legal relief you are seeking, and some of these rules vary from court to court.
Make Sure You Follow Local Court Rules – In order to receive an expungement of your conviction, you have to file a motion with the specific court in which you were convicted. If you do not file your motion in accordance with court rules, even if you are otherwise entitled to relief, your motion will be rejected – causing prejudice to your case and perhaps a lengthy delay (if not an outright denial altogether).
This is when our expertise as expungement lawyers becomes a huge benefit to our clients: we represent our clients in Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego. These are courts we are intimately familiar with, including the local court rules.
You can contact me at the end of this post for a free consultation if you think you may need assistance.
Determine the Legal Standard by which You Must Convince the Judge – Assuming you are generally eligible for expungement, you must next determine the proper legal standard to apply to your specific case.
There are two different ways a judge can grant your motion under Penal Code 1203.4, depending on whether or not you violated probation:
- When you did not violate probation, you are entitled to a mandatory granting of your motion (the judge lacks discretion to deny it) as long as:
- you didn’t violate probation;
- you are not serving a sentence for any offense, and
- you are not currently charged with an offense,
- When you DID violate probation, you are entitled to a discretionary granting of your motion (the judge retains discretion to grant or deny your motion) as long as:
- all of the above requirements for a mandatory expungement are met (except in this case you violated probation); AND
- you convince the court that relief should be granted in the interest of justice.
If you do not apply the proper legal standard, your motion could be denied.
Step #3 – File and Serve Your Motion to Clear Criminal Record
As discussed above, you must file your motion in accordance with State and local court rules. Part of this includes proper service on the opposing parties. Opposing parties must be served with notice of your motion at least 15 days prior to the court hearing.
Step #4 – Argue Your Motion in Front of the Judge and Against the District Attorney
In some cases, a court hearing is not required, but in others, it is.
When a court hearing is required, you must be ready to argue your motion effectively before the judge, and against the Prosecutor, in order to convince the Court to grant your relief.
Clear Criminal Record – Get Help from Expungement Lawyers
The process for getting an expungement can be quick and painless – if you know what you are doing. The problem is, a lot of people THINK they know what they are doing, but end up costing themselves more time and money in the long run by trying to handle matters on their own.
If you think you may need assistance with your expungement in Los Angeles, Orange County, or San Diego, please contact me (Attorney Paul Denni) to speak with me personally for a free consultation.