5 great reasons to get a felony expunged
Although the benefits of expunging an old felony conviction seem obvious, they bear repeating. Some individuals with very old felony convictions who have since built successful lives may not see a good reason to dredge up their past.
But they may be overlooking compelling reasons to go for an expungement. It’s well worth the effort.
Everyone makes mistakes. While it can be painful to relive past indiscretions, expungement presents a great opportunity to start over. Expungement is a legal procedure for clearing certain misdemeanor and felony convictions from an individual’s record. Expungement in California is governed by section 1203.4 of the California Penal Code.
Although the benefits of expunging an old felony conviction seem obvious, they bear repeating. Some individuals with very old felony convictions who have since built successful lives may not see a good reason to dredge up their past. But they may be overlooking compelling reasons to go for an expungement.
1. Personal confidence
Felony expungement provides an opportunity to leave your past behind and move forward with the confidence of knowing that your record is clean and you have nothing to hide.
Many employers conduct background checks for new hires, or even promotions. After a felony has been expunged from your record, you can legally answer “No” if an employer or job application asks whether you’ve ever been convicted of a felony.
After a successful felony expungement, you can legally answer “No” if a rental housing application asks whether you’ve been convicted of a felony, greatly improving your access to a wider range of more desirable housing options and competitive rental costs.
4. State licenses
Many professions including teachers, hairdressers, nurses, bartenders, EMTs, contractors, and real estate brokers are required to have a California state license. If you have a felony conviction on your record, your license may be denied by the state. Expungement can help you obtain your state professional licenses. After felony expungement, you can answer “YES — CONVICTION DISMISSED” on your professional license application. Most government employers and licensing agencies will treat you the same as if you had never been convicted of the crime.
5. Loan eligibility
Many financial institutions are reluctant to make loans to individuals with felony convictions. Expunging a felony from your record can improve your eligibility for auto, personal, and student loans, business financing, and home mortgage loans.
What felony expungement won’t do
Although expungement can clear away many of the limitations of a felony conviction, some restrictions remain:
- Government employment
If you are asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime by a government employer or on a government licensing application, you must respond with “YES — CONVICTION DISMISSED” even after expungement. However, most government employers and licensing agencies will treat you the same as if you had never been convicted of the crime.
Felony expungement by itself does not restore the right to purchase or possess firearms.
- Future crimes
Expunged felony convictions can still have the effect of increasing the severity of punishment in the event of future criminal convictions.
- Driving privileges
Felony expungement does not restore driving privileges. For example, if your driver’s license was suspended because of your conviction, expungement will not automatically end the suspension.
- Sex offender registration
If you are required to register as a sex offender as a result of a conviction, felony expungement will not change your duty to register.
How expungement works
If you were convicted of an infraction, misdemeanor, or a felony you can petition for expungement so long as you meet these four conditions:
- You were not sentenced to state prison.
- You completed your sentence.
- Are not currently serving another sentence, or are on probation for another offense.
- You are not currently charged with another crime.
For example, if you were given county jail time, probation, a fine, or a combination of these, and you completed your sentence, and you haven’t had any charges since, you may be eligible for expungement.
After obtaining your court records, you can petition the court to withdraw your guilty or no contest plea or verdict and enter a not guilty plea instead. The court will then set aside and dismiss the prior conviction.
From that point forward, you are no longer considered convicted of the prior offense and records of your prior conviction will show the charges as “DISMISSED.” Certain felonies do not qualify for expungement. You should consult with an experienced post-conviction attorney to determine whether you qualify for expungement before proceeding.
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