CLEARING A CRIMINAL RECORD IN CALIFORNIA
The Law Offices of Adam M. Leach has experience in handling cases of expungement in Southern California from matters that were previously heard in all local courts – no matter where you are located now. Depending on the facts of your particular case, this may clear your record, freeing you from the penalties of your past conviction.
An expungement, or sealing, of a criminal record is a short legal process that can clear criminal convictions from a person’s record. It is allowed whenever probation period has successfully ended, and is allowed under California Penal Code section 1203.4. An expungement takes place when a legal action filed with the court in which the conviction occurred and a request is made to have the criminal conviction reversed, set aside or dismissed. This process applies to most misdemeanor and minor felony cases. There are alternative ways to set aside a conviction for serious felonies. Please note that not all convictions can be expunged.
If you are now on probation, the law requires that probation end before you can do an expungement. Typically, we do this by filing a separate motion to terminate probation (allowed under California Penal Code section 1203.3, which then allows you to proceed with an expungement after a hearing on the motion to terminate probation.
The purpose of an expungement is to clear a history of criminal charges (adult and juvenile), that might adversely affect your chances of employment or education. Getting your record expunged can affect many factors in your life and it is advised that you seek the advice of a law firm such as ours, since our attorneys have experience in such matters.
If you are wondering, how does an expungement work? Technically, an expungement is a motion to withdraw a plea retroactively. This means that a judge re-opens your case, and for good cause as allowed under the law, allows you to withdraw your plea of guilty or no contest, and then dismisses your case nunc pro tunc (which is a latin legal phrase basically meaning “retroactively”). Because your case is now a dismissed case, and not a conviction on your record, you can truthfully state, when applying for a job and on other applications, that you were never convicted of the crime formerly on your record.
Please note that this doesn’t apply to everything – certain federal and California state government applications ask you, under penalty of perjury if you have ever had a case expunged or cleared from your record, and you have a duty to answer this truthfully, or face charges of perjury.
Misdemeanors: Most expungements for misdemeanors take between 2 to 4 weeks to complete from the time the application is filed. This does not include the time needed to research all records and process the application. The more prepared you are as to the information needed (dates, charges, court location, etc.) the quicker the application can be processed. If it is necessary to search the court records for information, it may take additional time.
Felony Expungements and Felony Reductions to Misdemeanors: Felonies, under California law, cannot be directly expunged, although they can be through a different strategy. Clearing a felony conviction generally takes 4 to 6 weeks to complete from the time the application is filed. This is called a Certificate of Rehabilitation. Some felonies can be reduced to misdemeanors, this process also takes approximately 4 to 6 weeks. Again, this is based upon receipt of all of the pertinent information by our office. A court search of records for information will take significantly longer.
Sealing of Juvenile Records: The average time required to have the records of a juvenile sealed, depending upon information received and court location, is 2 to 6 weeks.