If you have a criminal background in California, you might have experienced some negative repercussions as a result of it. For instance, you might have been denied renting space, employment, student loan, etc. Expungement can help you avoid such issues. Expungement will clear your conviction record so that they are not available to the public. Still, the process can be overwhelming and challenging without the help of an attorney who is experienced with expungement matters. If you have a conviction for any crime in the Pasadena area, get in touch with us at Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm so that we can help expunge your records.

Understanding Expungement

Since the court reopens the case while dismissing the criminal conviction, a “dismissal” is sometimes used to refer to the act of expunging or cleaning a criminal record in California. If the court overturns your guilty verdict, it's as though you never committed the crime in the first place.

The judiciary will update your records to reflect the termination, and you are generally not required to disclose your conviction when seeking employment. In reality, most companies in California do not have the liberty of inquiring about detention that didn't lead to a guilty verdict or a sentence that was later expunged (overturned).

There are a few exceptions, such as professions with other criminal justice agencies or police departments, or positions that require firearm or drug access. These directives are according to PC 851.91, 1203.4, and California Labor Code 432.7 (2019).

Expungement absolves a person of "all consequences and restrictions" resulting from a conviction. Expungements can also help you get or keep your California professional license, as well as join a variety of professional organizations. A dismissal of an infraction provides a "clean slate" from a criminal background.

Circumstances in Which an Individual May be Eligible for an Expungement

You may ask to have your record expunged at any moment if:

  • You were arrested but not charged with a crime, and the statute of limitations has run out on the charges you're facing
  • The court dismissed the charges against you, and they cannot be re-filed
  • You were not guilty of the charges leveled against you
  • You got convicted, but the court overturned your conviction or vacated on appeal, the appeals process has run its course, and no one can refile the charges

Other Grounds for Expungement Eligibility

As a general rule, Penal Code 1203.4 allows an expungement for a felony or misdemeanor offense if the applicant meets the following criteria:

  • completed probation (either a misdemeanor or felony probation) effectively, and
  • is not currently facing a criminal charge, on probation for a criminal charge, or serving a term for a crime.

The person seeking relief under PC 1203.4 must-have fulfilled probation in its totality or have received an early termination of parole.

"Completing probation successfully" denotes that a person has:

  • accomplished their probation in its entirety (that is, settled all restitution and fines, finished any counseling sessions, community service, etc.)
  • gone to all scheduled court proceedings (either in person or via an attorney)
  • during his probation, he didn't commit any additional offenses

Cases Ineligible for Expungement

If the individual who the court convicted received a sentence to state prison, the conviction will not get an expungement unless the offense was one whereby the person would get a jail sentence today.

Furthermore, there are some felony convictions that the court cannot erase, like serious sex crimes against children. These include:

  • PC 286(c) is California's legislation prohibiting sodomy with a child
  • Penal Code 287 (c) PC, California's indecent conduct with a child law
  • The statute prohibiting oral copulation with a child in California, PC 287 (c)
  • The statute prohibiting oral copulation with a minor in California, PC 287 (c) a
  • The statutory rape statute in California forbids sexual intercourse between people over 21 and those under 16

Other cases are when:

  • You could still face charges for the offense that led to your arrest
  • You have not received exoneration or found innocence of a charge of murder or other crime with no statute of limitations factually
  • You purposefully obstructed law enforcement's attempts to prosecute the detention

In some instances, if you violate your probation, you might miss out on the expungement privilege. Here are some considerations that the judge will make:

  • Your overall performance while still on probation
  • The perceived severity of the underlying guilty verdict
  • Your criminal history
  • Any other proof that demonstrates why you deserve this relief, such as your ability to get a good job, support your family, positive community ties, and so on

Obtaining an Expungement Under Penal Code 1203.42

To be eligible for expungement under PC 1203.42, defendants must file a petition with the court. The defendant has the right to file the following application:

  • when you're in person
  • either by a lawyer or
  • by a parole officer who has written permission

The court may next choose amongst the following options:

  1. Allow you to withdraw your no contest ("nolo contendere") or guilty plea and enter a not guilty plea
  2. Set aside the guilty verdict if your conviction was after pleading not guilty

In either event, the court will dismiss the charges against you. Following that, you will be free of all fines and impairments associated with the offense to the same degree as a standard expungement under PC 1203.4.

Steps for Expunging a Criminal Record in California

In California, expungement of criminal records entails these five steps:

Step 1: Hire a Lawyer

The expungement procedure is complex, time-consuming, and paper-intensive. In addition, there is numerous potential for mistakes that could result in the court rejecting an application. On the other hand, skilled criminal defense lawyers understand how to speed up the process and do it correctly the first time.

Step 2: Complete the Necessary Paperwork

For every situation, a criminal defense lawyer knows the forms to employ. Otherwise, you can find most dismissal application forms at the appropriate courtroom or by searching the internet.

Defendants who completed criminal probation, for example, would file a petition to expunge a misdemeanor according to PC 1203.4. If the offender has not fulfilled their probation, they must file a motion to cancel parole. If the court denies the defendant's request, they will file a petition for dismissal.

It's important to remember that it's impossible to wipe out felonies until you reduce them to misdemeanors. Therefore, the court frequently allows requests to downgrade wobblers (criminal acts that could be misdemeanors or felonies) to misdemeanors. On the other hand, the court can lower n on-wobbler felonies to a misdemeanor by completing a form under Penal Code 17(b).

Upon fulfilling these conditions, the defendant can file a motion under PC 1203.4 to have a misdemeanor dismissed.

It's also worth noting that the court must purge each conviction using a separate form. Defendants could also incorporate character references with the dismissal petition.

Step 3: File an Expungement Petition

Once you have completed the necessary forms, you must send them to the jurisdiction where the hearing of the case took place. In most cases, the court will answer in five months.

Each courtroom has its own set of policies and charges. In some cases, you might have to deliver expungement forms in person or through the mail.

It is vital to file documentation on time. The petitioner for expungement, for example, must give the prosecution a minimum of 15 days' notice before the hearing. This gives the prosecutor time to analyze the case and oppose it.

Defendants who cannot pay their filing fees may be eligible for financial help.

Step 4: Get Ready for the Expungement Hearing

The facts of the case determine whether or not a defendant must appear at their expungement hearing. The accused's criminal defense lawyer will keep them informed and, if required, assist them in preparing for the hearing.

Finally, the judge decides whether or not to approve a dismissal. There is no jury in this case. If a defendant can keep a job, has no other convictions, and has performed all mandatory community service, they are more likely to receive an expungement.

Step 5: Resubmit Denied Petition. Seal the Expungement for Approved Petition

If the judge rejects the expungement, the defendant has six months to file a new request with any necessary revisions.

If a judge approves the expungement, the defense lawyer should seal the matter, so it is no longer public knowledge. In most cases, defendants may dispute ever having had a criminal record. However, there are some exceptions if the defendant campaigns for public office, ask for a state permit, or looks for job placement at the California Lottery Commission.

What an Expungement Might Accomplish

Getting a California expungement has a lot of advantages. The following are a few of the most important:

  • Employers may not show discrimination against employment applicants who have had their convictions expunged
  • Obtaining a state license to practice is easier
  • No one can use expunged convictions in court to undermine someone's reliability as a witness (unless the person is the offender facing trial in a subsequent case)
  • In some situations, it assists in the avoidance of deportation

Limits on the Revelation to Prospective Employers of Dismissed Convictions

In recent times, the worth of a Penal Code 1203.4 expungement has skyrocketed.

It's because no other entity other than the law enforcement agencies could uncover an individual's criminal history.

However, data businesses started indexing criminal court records into massive national databases that others could search by name and birth date.

Thanks to these technological advances, prospective employers, professional groups, and licensing agencies may now do a background check and uncover a criminal record in seconds.

This is where an expungement's advantages come into play. Potential employers can now quickly learn about a previous criminal conviction.

However, if the court has expunged a conviction, prospective employers cannot use it as a reason to reject a job applicant.

While an expungement will help restore to an individual some lost privileges due to a conviction, there are a few exceptions:

  • You won't be able to possess or own a handgun until you receive legal authorization to do just that (California PC 12021).
  • If the crime is "prior-able," like a DUI or theft violation, the court could still use your expunged conviction to augment your penalty in subsequent criminal trials. (PC 484, VC 23152)
  • Your obligation to enroll as a sex offender will not get a relief based on an expungement (PC 290).
  • You won't be able to restore a suspended or revoked driver's license.
  • It will not eliminate the conviction off your "Arrest Record" - the guilty verdict and ultimate expungement will still appear on your FBI and California criminal history files "under PC 1203.4."
  • It won't permit you to conceal the conviction when applying for state-issued licenses or positions of public trust.
  • It won't seal and otherwise, make the court case record inaccessible to the public - anybody who understands where to search will manage to locate it.
  • It will not ensure that no one uses the conviction as a "previous" or "strike prior" to raise the penalties for a later conviction.
  • It won't prevent the use of the conviction as a basis for impeachment in the future.
  • It won't prevent ICE (Immigration) from using the conviction as a basis for deportation or exclusion.
  • It will not prevent the use of the conviction to deny or suspend government permits and licenses, such as teaching credentials, real estate sales licenses, bus driving licenses, security guard accreditations, and so on. However, the dismissal might lessen the weight granted to the guilty verdict by a licensing board.

There are ways to get the relief that an expungement does not offer. You can restore additional rights by having a California Certificate of Rehabilitation or Pardon from the California Governor. These alternatives may help individuals who were convicted and served their sentence in state prison since they are not eligible for an expungement, as already discussed above. Note that neither of the alternatives will seal or erase your criminal record.

When to File for an Expungement

The waiting period before an individual files for expungement varies depending on the convictions:

  • For an infraction or misdemeanor conviction with denied probation, one will have to wait for one year after the sentence to apply for dismissal.
  • For felony convictions with a sentence in county jail, one must wait for one year to elapse in a split verdict before filing for an expungement. In cases involving a straight sentence, the individual will have to wait two years.

You can file a motion under California Penal Code1203.3 to have your release from probation earlier and petition for expungement (PC 1203.4) simultaneously. However, it would be best to fulfill around half of the Probationary Term in most cases.

The judge takes this decision at his discretion, and the prosecutor's office may object. Therefore, it necessitates the filing of a formal written petition as well as a court hearing.

You must complete all fines, restitution, fees, programs, community service, and classes before filing the Motion to Terminate; that is, you must meet the conditions of your probation before the court would consider the matter.

The Duration for Expungement to Take Effect

In general, you may expect your expungement to take 90 to 120 days, although specific courts or prior cases may take longer.

Several factors influence the duration of time it takes for an expungement to move through the judicial process:

  • The duration of time in between conviction and the submitting of the expungement
  • Availability of the case in the existing computer system at the court where you need to file the expungement
  • The type of case, whether it is a misdemeanor or felony
  • The complexity of the case
  • Whether the case file is in storage away from the court processing the expungement
  • Whether or not the court requires you to prepare a Probation Report before processing the expungement

Some courthouses have a record of handling expungements and "turning around" petitions in as little as six to eight weeks. For example, the Newport Beach Court in Orange County and the Van Nuys Court in Los Angeles County are famous for completing under ten years old expungements.

When you call your attorney for a phone consultation, he'll be able to offer you a more accurate estimate of how long your expungement petition might take. On the other hand, expungement petitions are not a primary concern for the judiciary system, so there isn't any time restriction on them. Therefore, they can take weeks or months to process.

The Cost for Expungement in California

Each expungement petition is subject to a filing fee. For every felony case, the charge is $120 (currently), while for every misdemeanor case, it is $60. For dismissing/expunging offenses, there is no filing cost. NOTE: If you cannot pay the costs, you may apply for a fee waiver.

You can file a "Request to Waive Court Fees" with your petition if you cannot manage to pay the court charges. Certain courts might also need a "Financial Declaration." The court will decide whether or not to waive the fees in this case.

Sealing Versus Expungement

Expunction removes a conviction or detention from a person's record, whereas sealed records create the impression that the court has erased the arrest or conviction. In addition, when an individual's record gets sealed, it signifies that it is not accessible to the general public. However, the prosecution can use a court ruling to retrieve or "reopen" sealed records. The laws of the jurisdiction in question govern the method and standards for sealing a record and how and when unsealing a record can take place.

There are specific conditions that he should meet to be eligible for sealing.

Sealing If You Haven't Been Found Guilty of an Offense

Even though the government has banned most companies from inquiring about arrests that do not culminate in convictions, you might even want your arrest record expunged. Below are specific circumstances under which your arrest record might qualify for sealing.

If you can show your "factually innocence" of the offense brought against you

You must first show that there were no legitimate grounds for your arrest; the fact that the court acquitted you does not show your innocence. If you suppose you are eligible for a proclamation of innocence, you will require the assistance of an attorney to develop your case. (California Penal Code Section 851.8 (2019).)

If you were arrested but were not convicted, or if your conviction was annulled and overturned on appeal.

When the court orders a record sealed, the whole record gets sealed, including fingerprints, booking photos, and arrest reports, and then destroyed three years following the arrest. After that, the arrest will be as if it didn't happen.

Sealing an Arrest Record For a Minor

In California, sealing juvenile court records offers the same advantages as sealing an adult record. Sealing a juvenile arrest record may be successful if one meets the following conditions:

  • They are grown-ups, or the juvenile court has jurisdiction over them
  • It's been at least five years since the authorities last used the record
  • They have not faced prosecution of any charges of moral turpitude (that is, offenses comprising immoral behavior or dishonesty), and there is no current civil lawsuit founded on the juvenile occurrence

When a judge grants a motion to seal and destroy a juvenile arrest record, it remains sealed for three years before being destroyed.

Only adult detention that didn't lead to a conviction and most juvenile criminal convictions are eligible for record sealing. Because the California court cannot seal adult criminal convictions, criminal record expungement is the sole option if you have faced a conviction.

Find an Pasadena Expungement Attorney Near Me

Expungement can be a tedious process. However, an experienced Pasadena expungement attorney can help ease the process for you. We at Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm can help you expunge your record after a conviction. Get in touch with us at 626-628-0564 to learn more about how we can help you.