Expungement: The Basics In California

Expungement Of Criminal Records

One inescapable fact of life is that people will make mistakes. However, while these indiscretions will certainly have consequences, most people would likely agree that individuals should not necessarily have to pay for these mistakes for the rest of their lives ― a situation that is often the case for many of those whose youthful transgressions ultimately resulted in criminal convictions.

Indeed, an individual can be plagued by past criminal convictions for years, particularly when he or she is looking for employment. Sadly, potential employers may consider a criminal conviction during the hiring process regardless of whether the applicant has completely turned his or her life around since then.

Fortunately, however, a person in California may be able to seek an expungement of his or her criminal record in circumstances such as these, which can make a job search significantly less complicated.

How Expungement Can Help In California

Essentially, when a person expunges a criminal record in California, his or her trial conviction will be set aside by the court, or if he or she had pleaded guilty or no-contest, the court will withdraw this plea and enter a plea of not guilty. However, in either situation, the case will be considered dismissed and the individual will be "released from all penalties and disabilities" resulting from the original conviction.

However, there are requirements that must be met before an individual will be eligible for an expungement in California, including the conditions the applicant must first successfully complete his or her probation and pay all relevant fines. Consequently, if a person does not fulfill all of the terms of his or her probation ― or if he or she is charged with another crime while on probation ― he or she will likely not qualify for an expungement.

Alternatively, if the individual is not given probation following a misdemeanor conviction, he or she can seek an expungement after one year so long as he or she:

  • Has not been charged with the commission of any crime
  • Is not serving a sentence for any offense
  • Has lived an honest and upright life and obeyed the law since the judgment
  • Has fully complied with and performed any sentence issued by the court

It is important to note, however, that not all convictions can be expunged from a person's criminal record in California, including many convictions related to various sex crimes.

Unfortunately, given the complexity of expungement laws in California, this article is barely able to scratch the surface of what an individual needs to know when seeking to expunge a criminal conviction. Accordingly, if you wish to learn more about expungement in California and how it can help you move on with your life, you should contact an experienced attorney to discover what your options may be.