Cleaning up your criminal record is an important way to move on with your life. Criminal convictions can lead to being denied employment, an apartment, a professional license, security clearance, or the ability to work with children. The resulting loss of money and opportunity can be embarrassing and hamper the ability to support yourself.
It is important to note upfront that expungements for convictions involving DUIs, “wet reckless,” and a few other specific Vehicle Code violations, are treated differently in that they require a judge to exercise discretion “in the interests of justice.” Expungements of convictions that require good cause—like DUIs—are discussed here.
An expungement in California is a legal procedure where, if granted, the court allows you to withdraw a plea of guilty (or “no contest”) and enter a plea of “not guilty.” The judge will then dismiss the charges. If you were convicted following a trial, then the judge will “set aside” the guilty verdict and dismiss the charges.
Once an expungement is granted, the court notifies the California Department of Justice (“DOJ”) electronically who will amend your criminal history accordingly. The California DOJ does not completely erase the conviction from its records though. The criminal record on file with the DOJ will still state the case number, the charges for which you were convicted, and that a guilty (or no contest) plea was entered, or a conviction following a trial and the date of conviction. But the record will be amended to state that the plea was withdrawn (or the verdict set aside), and the charges were “dismissed pursuant to Penal Code § 1203.4” and the date the expungement was granted. So there is still some information that can be obtained by persons who can access the California DOJ records. Fortunately, with limited exceptions, prospective employers don’t have access to those California DOJ records and cannot ask you to provide them.
Once an expungement is granted, with a few exceptions noted below, you can deny the conviction when asked by a prospective employer if you have ever been convicted of a crime. Note also that, under California Labor Code § 432.7, again with few exceptions, it is against the law for a potential employer in California to even ask about dismissed convictions, and arrests that did not lead to a conviction.
There are several requirements to get an expungement. Those include:
While the law governing expungements in California, Penal Code § 1203.4, says that if granted, the person shall be “released from all penalties and disabilities resulting,” there are exceptions. Such limitations to an expungement include:
The process of an expungement, from determining your eligibility, available relief, and just getting into court, is daunting and confusing. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC, is here to help you. We have 20 years of experience helping people like you expunge their criminal records in California and getting their lives back on track. Call now and speak directly to Christopher McCann.
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