Persons with misdemeanors, infractions, and felonies can have their record of conviction expunged in California. California law effectively allows expungement petitions to remove a conviction and changes it to a dismissal. This means that you can answer on employment and rental applications that you have not been convicted of a crime. The record is not actually destroyed but instead sealed from the public records so that it won’t come up during a criminal background check.
Convicted felons are treated especially harshly, and their criminal record presents many obstacles for employment, housing, school and many other areas of daily life. In most states, Felons are not allowed to vote, to posses or buy firearms, or have professional licenses. This makes finding housing or suitable employment extremely challenging.
An expungement can help you once again have those opportunities and turn around your life. The Kolodzi Law Firm has the experience and knowledge to expunge your felony record and stop the frustration and humiliation of a felony record or being able to once again enjoy life and the opportunity to achieve your potential.
The California Expungement Law
If you have completed your probation or sentence, you may petition the court under Penal Code Section 1203.4 to have your conviction dismissed. If a judge grants it, you can ask for an expungement of the record that sets aside your plea of guilty, nolo contendre or the verdict of guilty if you were tried.
The major benefit of expungement is that you no longer have to disclose your felony and can state under oath that you have never been convicted of the offense that was expunged. This means that on employment, rental applications, and school forms you will not have to list your expunged felony. There are some exceptions that require you to list your expunge record regardless:
- If you are applying for a public or professional license,
- If you are running for public office or seeking a contract with the California State Lottery Commission
- If you are seeking employment with law enforcement
- If you are applying to a public school teaching position
- If you are applying to a position at the courts or any other governmental agency
When a record is expunged it is not destroyed, but instead sealed away from the public record so that criminal background checks cannot bring it up. The court system and other institutions can still bring up your record. The DMV for example, will count another DUI as a second DUI if your first was expunged, revoking your driver’s license and assigning harsher penalties. Unless your felony is reduced to a misdemeanor, you will still not be allowed to purchase or possess firearms.
After you have completed the terms and conditions of your probation, and have never served anytime inside a state prison, you can file for an expungement and dismissal of your conviction. Typically probation lasts 3 to 5 years or more. Contact our attorneys at The Kolodzi Law Firm to see about reducing your probation by half.
Certain offenses cannot be dismissed with an expungement. If the offense involved lewd contact with a minor, statutory rape where you were 21 or older and the minor was 16 or younger, or any other sexual misconduct with a minor, and expungement will not be granted. Additionally murder or kidnapping are ineligible for expungement as well. If you do re-offend for the same offense, you risk having your expungement invalidated which may enhance your sentence or add a strike under California’s Three-Strike’s law.
If you have served time in a state prison, we can request a certification of Rehabilitation which would automatically qualify you for a Governor’s Pardon. A Governors’ Pardon may be granted 7 years after serving your sentence and can help open up some doors of opportunity previously closed to you.
Probation violations are very common and even if you have violated the terms or conditions of the probation you can still receive an expungement under certain circumstances. One of our lawyers can help you with your defense providing documentary or testamentary evidence to indicate your ties to the community, volunteerism, efforts to support your family and your inability to advance your career because of your conviction. The court will then review how long you have been on probation, the circumstances of the violation, any criminal history and if you are deserving of expungement.
The Expungement process
Once our lawyers determine if your offense can be expunged, we wil gather all the materials we will need to make the request: court records indicating the details of your offense, plea, sentence and terms of probation. We will then send the district attorney and probation department in the county where your plea or verdict was held a Section 1203.4 or 1203.4a Petition. A court date will then be sent which you should not need to attend unless the petition is being challenged or the court wants arguments presented. If you do need to attend, it typically takes 30 minutes for both sides to present their arguments. After the arguments are presented, the court will take the matter under submission before issuing the order or reason for denial.
Your chance with The Kolodzi Law Firm is very good to have your records expunged and we will advise you it you have a difficult case. During the initial consultation, the information you give us should be enough for us to determine if we can help you expunge your record, and how difficult the process might be. Tougher cases can be more difficult to resolve but that certainly doesn’t mean that it is impossible. The longer you have remained a law abiding citizen the easier it will be for us to get your expungement granted.
After your expungement has been granted, we will work to make sure that the criminal databases that criminal background checks use promptly expunges your record.