California Expungement

Expungement of a Criminal Record in California

The California Penal Code Section 1203.4 allows anyone who meets certain criteria to have their record expunged by filing a petition for dismissal. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony but did not receive a state prison sentence, you are most likely eligible to have your criminal record expunged. If you meet the requirements, the court will dismiss the conviction, and your criminal record will reflect that fact.

If you are on probation, you must either complete your probation or petition to have your probation terminated early before filing. If you want a felony conviction removed from your record, you must first have it reduced to a misdemeanor before petitioning for dismissal. Rape and sexual assault against minors are never grounds for dismissal.

Expunging your Record in California

California’s Penal Code has a contingency in place that may enable individuals convicted of a felony or misdemeanor who have not been sentenced to state prison time to benefit from an expungement of their criminal record. An expungement brings multiple advantages, and could be the fresh start you are looking for. Knowing whether you meet the criteria and how to proceed with the expungement process can help you take advantage of this opportunity. Therefore, if you are eligible for expungement, please follow the steps outlined below to complete the necessary steps.

  1. Consulting a Lawyer for Felony Expungement – Meet with an attorney experienced in California expungement law. They can review your case and advise if you are eligible. A lawyer can also help complete forms and represent you at the hearing.
  2. Acquiring and Filling Out Expungement Forms – Your attorney can provide the necessary California forms to petition for expungement. Forms include personal information, conviction details, and your request to clear the record. Complete forms accurately and thoroughly.
  3. Filing the Petition Paperwork – Submit your completed forms to the court in the California county where the felony conviction occurred. This officially requests an expungement hearing. Pay required court fees.
  4. Preparing for the Court Hearing – Discuss your case, testimony, and presentation with your lawyer to get ready for the expungement hearing. The judge will determine if you qualify for record clearance.
  5. Attending the Expungement Hearing – Appear before the judge on your designated court date. Your attorney will argue for granting expungement based on your petition. The judge decides whether to accept or deny clearing your record.
  6. If Approved – If granted, the court will order relevant agencies to seal your felony conviction record from background checks. Certain parties like law enforcement may still access it.
  7. If Denied – If your petition gets denied, discuss appeal options with your attorney. You may re-apply after a waiting period or seek a Certificate of Rehabilitation. Don’t give up.

If you have been convicted of a felony, there are several alternatives to having your record expunged. You may be able to have your records sealed or destroyed, obtain a certificate of rehabilitation, or receive a direct pardon from the Governor’s Office.

Having your records sealed or destroyed means that any police reports, arrest records, and other documents pertaining to your case will be removed from public view. Generally, you must meet certain criteria in order to qualify for this option, such as being wrongfully arrested but not convicted of a crime or having your case dismissed in court. It is highly recommended that you seek assistance from an attorney before attempting to seal your records.

To apply for a certificate of rehabilitation, you must have been convicted of a felony and served time in a California state prison; or have been convicted of a felony or sex offense outlined in Penal Code Section 290 that was later dismissed. Your application must also be filed with the Superior Court at least seven years after release from probation and parole. Although you may receive certain benefits as a result of obtaining the certificate, such as the right to serve on a jury or vote, it does not seal or erase your conviction from your record.

The final option is to apply for a direct pardon from the Governor’s Office. You must wait at least ten years after release from probation and parole before submitting an Application for Gubernatorial Pardon. If you receive the direct pardon, it may lead to the restoration of rights such as the right to serve on a jury, the right to vote, and the right to own or possess a firearm. However, it does not seal or expunge your records.

New California Expungement Law 2023

California has taken a monumental step toward criminal justice reform with the implementation of Senate Bill 731, which will enable past offenders to have their criminal records sealed. This historic legislation, signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, was designed to provide opportunities to ex-offenders 4 years after completing their sentences and any parole or probation requirements.

SB-731 broadened the eligibility criteria for expungement relief, allowing courts to grant expungement for certain felony convictions even if the individual served time in prison.

The new law will automatically seal the conviction or arrest records for most ex-offenders, as long as they do not commit another felony. Additionally, records of arrests that don’t lead to convictions will also be sealed. This includes domestic violence cases, although those convicted of serious and violent felonies, as well as those requiring sex offender registration, are excluded from SB 731’s protection.

Approximately 1 in 5 Californians are believed to have some form of criminal record, creating significant barriers when it comes to accessing employment, housing, and educational opportunities. Research suggests that this is a national issue; nationwide, over 70 million people face around 50,000 legal restrictions because of their criminal background histories.

To combat this problem, 37 states and 150 cities have enacted ‘ban the box’ policies which prohibit employers from inquiring about an individual’s criminal history before an offer is made. While these measures certainly help, SB 731 takes the initiative further by actively sealing outdated criminal records, giving those affected the chance of a fresh start.

Sex offenses requiring registration and crimes against children are still ineligible for expungement under this new law. However, this newfound flexibility in the law offers hope to those who have served their sentence, worked hard to become law-abiding citizens, and wish to move past their criminal record without it continuing to hinder their progress.

In effect July 1st, 2023, California’s groundbreaking legislation gives hope to former offenders unable to move on from their pasts. By providing individuals with a second chance, SB 731 sets an example of justice that other states can emulate.

Do I meet the requirements?

If you were convicted of a felony or misdemeanor and were sentenced to probation, the court will dismiss your conviction if you: (1) completed probation or was released early; (2) paid all fines and restitution due; (3) are not on probation for another offense; and (4) are not currently charged with a separate offense.

If you were convicted of a misdemeanor but did not receive probation, the court will dismiss your conviction if: (1) a year has passed since your conviction; (2) you have fully complied with your sentence; (3) you are not on probation for another offense; and (4) you have not broken the law since your conviction.

In some cases, whether or not you qualify is less clear, and the court will use its discretion. This can happen if you did not complete your probation or if you were convicted of a vehicular offense such as DUI or hit and run. In these cases, your dismissal may still be granted if you have paid your fines and are not serving time for, on probation for, or charged with another offense.

What are the ramifications of expungement?

One of the primary advantages of expungement is that private employers cannot question you about dismissed convictions. It does not, however, exempt you from disclosing a conviction on an application to run for public office or to be licensed by a state agency. However, if you answer “yes” to the question, California agencies are required to treat you as if you have never been convicted.

It is critical to understand all of the restrictions associated with expunging your record. The dismissed conviction can still be used to increase the penalties for subsequent offenses. If you had a felony conviction overturned, you are still prohibited from possessing or owning a firearm under California law. The revocation or suspension of your license will not be affected by the dismissal of a DUI conviction.

California Sex Offender Registry Removal

New California Bill SB384 Ends Lifetime Sex Offender Registration For Nearly 90% Of Current Sex Offenders

Remove Your Name From the California Sex Offender Database. New California Law allows certain sex offenders to have their names legally and permanently removed from public and police databases. In October 2017, former California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB384, a new law that allows a majority of sex offenders to petition for the removal of their names from both public and police databases. The only catch is it must have been 10 or 20 years since the sex offense and subsequent sentencing. It is believed this new law, which took effect July 1, 2021, affects up to 100,000 current sex offenders.

Normally, registration as a sex offender was a lifetime requirement, however, with this new California law you can now legally petition for the permanent removal of your name from the sex offender database. We will assist you with the entire process to ensure the best possible outcome.

You won’t automatically benefit from this law if it applies to you, for the best and most expedited resolution to removing your name from the sex offender database you should work with a legal professional.

Where do I begin?

Contact the attorney who handled your case if possible to begin the process of having your record expunged. Otherwise, the California court system provides a wealth of resources for people seeking to have prior convictions overturned.

FAQs on Expunging Your Record in California

How much does it cost to get your record expunged in California?

The cost for a record expungement application in California varies based on the type of case and court filing fees but typically ranges from $150–400.

Can I expunge my record myself in California?

Yes, you can file for an expungement yourself in California. However, the process can be complicated so it is recommended that you seek assistance from a qualified lawyer.

What offenses are expungeable in California?

Generally, misdemeanors and felonies are eligible for expungement in California. Certain specific types of criminal convictions are not eligible including sex offenses and DUIs. Additionally, certain types of sentences may also disqualify you from expungement, such as cases where you were sentenced to state prison or probation. It is important to understand which offenses are ineligible as this could affect how successful your petition will be.

What is the new expungement law in California 2023?

As of January 1, 2023, Proposition 64 allows individuals to petition to have multiple felonies reduced to misdemeanors and to have multiple non-violent felonies dismissed. This law applies to individuals who are currently serving time in prison and those who have already been released.

Who qualifies for expungement in California?

In general, people who have been convicted of misdemeanor or felony offenses may be eligible for expungement in California. Individuals must meet certain criteria such as being at least 18 years old, having paid all fines and restitution, completing any required sentencing/supervision conditions, and not currently serving time in a state prison or on parole.

How long does expungement take in California?

The length of time for an expungement in California depends on the specifics of the case. Generally, it can take anywhere from 30 days to several months before the court reaches a decision on the case.

Does your criminal record clear after 7 years in California?

No, a criminal record does not necessarily clear after 7 years in California. Expungement is the only way to clear a criminal record permanently.

Is expungement worth it California?

Expungement is definitely worth it in California. Having a criminal record can pose many obstacles and hinder your ability to obtain employment and other opportunities. An expungement can help remove these obstacles and give you a fresh start.

Will my expunged record show up on a background check in California?

Generally, no. Once your record is expunged, it is removed from databases used by employers and landlords to conduct background checks. However, there are some exceptions – such as defense contractor positions – where your prior record might still be accessed despite being expunged.

Can a felon expunge his record in California?

Yes, felons are eligible for expungement in California if they meet the necessary criteria. This includes being at least 18 years old, having paid all fines and restitution, completing any required sentencing/supervision conditions, and not currently serving time in state prison or on parole.

What happens after expungement in California?

After your record is successfully expunged, it will be removed from most databases used for employment background checks. This means that potential employers and landlords will no longer have access to your criminal history and cannot use it against you when making decisions regarding employment or housing. You may even be able to get certain rights restored to you such as the right to possess firearms or serve on a jury.

How long until you can get a felony expunged in California?

The amount of time needed for a felony conviction to be eligible for expungement depends on the specifics of each individual situation. Generally, individuals must wait three to five years after completing their sentence before they can apply for an expungement.

Do I have to disclose expunged records in California?

No, once your record has been successfully expunged you do not have to disclose it when applying for jobs, housing, etc. Your criminal history should be considered cleared and will no longer appear on background checks conducted by employers and landlords.

How do you check if your record has been expunged in California?

If you have applied for an expungement in California, you should receive notice within 6-8 weeks confirming whether or not your petition was approved. If approved, you can search public records databases or contact your local county court to confirm if your record has been successfully expunged.

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