The repercussions of an arrest and criminal charge in the state of California do not end when you close the case, serve the jail time, or pay the fines. Running into trouble with the law can follow you for the rest of your life because criminal record is public and indexed by information companies. Carrying around a criminal record can cause numerous problems in your life, like trouble finding a job.
You shouldn’t have to keep paying the price for past mistakes. You’ve already paid your debt to society. With an expungement, you can have a clean slate and avoid the negative consequences of a public criminal record.
What is expungement and why do you need one?
Expungement is the “record redo” you get when after making mistakes that landed you in jail. Getting an expungement means the state will retain a record of criminal convictions, but the public will no longer have access to that information.
A public criminal record can negatively impact your life in many ways, but the place where most people struggle is the job market. A regular background check could show a prospective employer your past conviction or criminal case and he or she may use that information to deny you a job. An expungement prevents any of the public from seeing your criminal record.
*Special Note: If the prospective employer demands fingerprints submissions or a print of your California Department of Justice Report, your record might indicate that there was a case in the past. The record will only show that your case was dismissed and there will not be any convictions.
When do you qualify for an expungement?
An expungement can be immensely helpful, but unfortunately, not everyone qualifies. Not all ex-convicts are eligible to receive expungement. You only qualify if you meet all 4 of the following criteria.
You must not be on probation at the time of application.
You must not be charged in any current criminal cases.
The crime that put you on the record must not have resulted in a state prison sentence.
When don’t you qualify for expungement?
The law does not permit expungements for sex crimes and cases of serious vehicle code violation. The only time a felony can be expunged is if it’s been reduced to a misdemeanor, which most felonies can unless the defendant was sentenced to state prison.
You are NOT eligible for expungement if:
You are at present, being charged with any crime in any jurisdiction;
You are presently on probation, obligatory supervision from law enforcement, or on parole within any jurisdiction.
You are currently doing jail time in any jurisdiction;
You were sentenced to state prison for your conviction.
NOTE: Some judges may terminate your probation early to make you eligible for expungement. An attorney can help with this.
If you did serve a state prison sentence, do not despair; you may still qualify for a certificate of rehabilitation and/or a governor’s pardon. Contact an attorney for more information.
Expunging a felony conviction in California
If your felony conviction was not originally resolved as a misdemeanor, petitioning the court to reduce the charges is the starting place for an expungement. You and your attorney must prove to the judge that you are deeply remorseful for your crimes and a positive force in the community. It may help to participate in several non-profit activities.
In some cases, expungement may be granted after your attorney successfully files two of the following petitions: the PC 17b and the PC 1203.4. If successful, the former (PC 17b) will reduce your felony to a mere misdemeanor and the latter (PC 1203.4) gets the reduced charged dismissed completely.
How to expunge a misdemeanor in California
The requirements to expunge a California misdemeanor are outlined in the Penal Code section1203.4a. To begin, your attorney will obtain your criminal record copy, then complete and submit the CR-180 in the county of conviction, with the applicable filing fee, and serve a copy of the application on the prosecuting agency.
How much does an expungement typically cost?
In California, petition court fees for an expungement are in the cost range of $100 to $400, depending on the serving courthouse. Attorneys charge a sum between $400 to $1,400 per criminal charge. Attorney fees could rise to between $1000 to $4000 if the criminal case is complicated.
If you can’t afford the fee to file a petition for expungement, you or your attorney may request a fee waiver. This can be achieved by completing (Form FW-001).
Choosing an experienced attorney to handle your expungement
Your ability to get a job, attend school, or find housing can hampered with a mere misdemeanor conviction. An expungement can be a lifeline, but to get the conviction successfully removed from your record, you need an experienced attorney.
An expungement and all the petitions and paperwork associated with it can be textually dense and confusing. Your ideal attorney must have handled at least two successful expungements in the past. An experienced attorney comes with relevant and vital contacts, which can be crucial in a time sensitive scenario. You do not have to keep paying for past mistakes. Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney Don Hammond has successfully obtained dozens of expungements in several counties and is very experienced with the process. Contact Don Hammond to get your criminal record expunged to get a new beginning.