Expungement Lawyer in San Diego
Expunge Your Criminal Record in California
Many misdemeanor convictions are cases of one-time mistakes. Unfortunately, even minor misdemeanors are part of your permanent record and can prevent you from living in certain places and finding gainful employment. If your crime is expunged in the state of California, your criminal case will be reopened and your conviction will be dismissed. Your official records will not show a conviction, but it cannot be erased, either. Instead, your record will show that your case was granted expungement.
A successful petition for expungement permits the petitioner to be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which he or she has been convicted, except as provided in Section 13555 of the Vehicle Code which relates to revocation or suspension of driving privileges stemming from a DUI conviction.
How to Obtain an Expungement in San Diego
Under the California expungement law, pursuant to CA penal code 1203.4, an individual convicted of a crime may petition the court to re-open the case, set aside the plea, and dismiss the case. To qualify for expungement he or she must have completed probation, paid all fines and restitution, not served a sentence in state prison for the offense, and not currently being charged with a crime. If the requirements for eligibility are met, a court may grant the petition if it finds that doing so would serve the interests of justice. A successful petition for expungement however will not erase or entirely seal a criminal record. However any findings of guilt or an entered judgment of guilty will be changed to a dismissal. The petitioner can then honestly and legally answer to most questions about his criminal history that he has not been convicted of that crime.
Benefits of Expungement
The potential benefits of an expungement include:
- Your case will be dismissed and the guilty plea thrown out by the court.
- On job applications, you may answer that you have not been convicted of a crime.
- When applying to a government job or seeking a government regulated license a background check will reveal prior convictions. If you are applying to government jobs or have upcoming work with a government entity requiring a license you should disclose any prior convictions. It is advisable to also disclose the expungement of this past conviction.
- On criminal background check your case will be shown as dismissed and set aside
What Criminal Expungement Does Not Do
An expungement does not provide for the following:
- Permit you to leave out the conviction on applications for government issued licenses;
- It will not get rid of the conviction on your “Rap Sheet” – California and FBI criminal history will reflect that you have both a conviction and dismissal.
- If you have lost your right to own or possess a firearm an expungement will not restore this right. This consequence can be avoided if your attorney is successful in reducing the offense from a felony to misdemeanor or by showing that the crime is non-violent.
- Unfortunately, the files relating to your criminal case remain with the court and will not be sealed. The public is able to inspect your case file if they are familiar with the courts and have some knowledge about your case.
- If you are facing a new criminal charge an expungement does not prevent the prosecution from using the record of the prior conviction as a “prior.” Your previous offense even if expunged can increase your punishment if you plead or are found guilty in a subsequent case.
- If called as a witness evidence of your prior conviction can be introduced to impeach or attack your credibility as a witness
- If you hold a professional license, teaching credential, medical license, or other government license a conviction can result in the loss or revocation of that license. The impact on your professional life can be significant however an expungement of a past conviction can help your defense argument with the licensing agency.
- The conviction is still fully accessible and can be used by US immigration officers in deciding matters relating to your immigration status and possible deportation.
- This does not give relief to anyone required to register as a sex offender under PC290. This requirement can only be removed with a certificate of rehabilitation.
How Do I Expunge My Criminal Record in CA?
The first step in an expungement is being finished with probation. A defendant must be in compliance with their probation terms by paying all fines and fees. Additional requirements such as custody time or community service must also be completed. Anyone ordered to complete certain rehab classes should have proof turned into the court. As long as all terms of probation have been completed, the only other requirement is length of probation. Most probation terms are three years although some like DUI convictions can be five years.
If you want to expunge your record you have to either serve the full length of probation or apply for early termination of probation.
California Early Termination Of Probation
Getting off probation early is not easily accomplished. A guilty plea of convictions brings a required three or five year probation term. A court will consider terminating some people from probation early but this requires significant motions and evidence submitted to the court. A judge will want to know why he should consider your case as special to grant early release from probation.
While every case is different you should expect to serve half the length of your probation before applying for early terminations. Exceptional cases where the defendant has gone above and beyond to show their performance on probation will be considered for early termination of probation.
Seal and Destroy Arrest Record California
If you have a criminal case in which you were found not guilty or the court dismissed the charges you have the right under California Law to request that your arrest record be sealed and destroyed. This can also be considered an expungement of your arrest record but it is actually more extensive than a simple expungement. If you were arrested for any misdemeanor or felony offense and the prosecution never filed a formal accusatory pleading with the court this procedure may be able to have your record sealed. Your criminal record will always include past arrests for criminal matters even if the prosecution never charged your case. California Penal Code 851.8 creates a petition that can be filed by an attorney to request that the arresting law enforcement agency destroy its records of the arrest.
Diligent work from experienced counsel can get the charges dropped prior to your first arraignment date. If District Attorney or other prosecuting agency feels they have insufficient evidence to proceed in your case they will close their file and refer the case back to law enforcement for further investigation. Your San Diego expungement lawyer should work closely with law enforcement to ensure that they conclude their investigation promptly and dismiss those cases where the defendant is innocent and has committed no crime.
How a San Diego Expungement Attorney Can Clear Your Arrest in CA
If your petition under PC 851.8 succeeds then any reference to the arrest must be deleted from arresting agencies records. Records of the arrest must also be removed from the Department of Justice database along with the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.
The first step is sending the petition to the law enforcement agency that actually arrested the defendant. A copy of this is also served on the prosecuting lawyer that has jurisdiction over the case. If law enforcement determines that the defendant is factually innocent they must seal the arrest record and destroy the record within three years of the arrest. If the petition is granted law enforcement is required to notify the Department of Justice and other local/state law enforcement that the individual was found factually innocent and that arrest records will be sealed and destroyed. The importance of this petition is that if granted the law enforcement agency must guarantee that all records given to any agency, entity or person in California must destroy its records of the arrest. This is crucial because the record must be sealed and destroyed from any State or Federal database that may come up on a background check.
If you are convicted of a criminal offense after your record has been expunged, the conviction will still stand as part of your history and may be used to enhance sentencing. For instance, if you get an additional DUI, the expunged conviction will count as your second strike under California laws.
A San Diego Expungement Lawyer Who Can Help
We are committed to fighting for our clients’ rights long after a conviction and probation have been served. We can help you file the paperwork, stay in touch with the courts to move the process along, and speak on your behalf during hearings. You can file for expungement as soon as you have finished the terms of your probation, so don’t hesitate to get the ball rolling.
Not Guilty. Case Dismissed. Burglary, Theft, Identity Theft
Client was charged with criminal Burglary, Grand Theft and Identity Theft from local retailers. Defense investigation revealed client was not individual shown on security cameras
Order Granted Restraining Orders
Clients filed for restraining order(s), preventing former pastor from coming within 100 yards of church or making any disparaging comments about the Church on Social Media.
Granted-No Jail Time, Supervised Probation Juvenile Sex Crime
3 counts including lewd act upon a child and sodomy by use of force Client was facing 11 years in state prison. Extensive defense investigation and use of psychological experts with client and victim to allow for specialized circumstances disposition.
No Custody, Case Dismissed Following Probation Welfare Fraud
6 Counts of Fraud by Misrepresentation and Perjury. Possible 4 year prison sentence maximum. Defense negotiated with prosecution for Diversion Program.
Case Dismissed Restraining Order
Client faced false accusations in restraining order petition. Successfully defended at trial, defense counsel discredits plaintiff’s case showing accusations to be non-credible. Successful in getting restraining order denied.
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