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Can I Have My Criminal Record Expunged?

If you have had a criminal record which may have cost you some job opportunities or housing options, or you simply don’t want to be associated with that part of your life and personality, you may want to consider having your criminal record expunged.

However, in order to know whether you are eligible and how to go about doing it, you will probably need a skilled legal representative and a bit of patience. So, what is expungement exactly?

What Is Expungement?

In essence, it is the clearing of your criminal record from the public records. All criminal records are publically available and are used by employers and landlords to decide whether to have dealings with you. If you manage to get an expungement, it will be as if the crime had never happened.

However, since California law doesn’t exactly allow expungement, there is a roundabout way of doing it. Your case is reopened and the verdict is nullified, followed by a dismissal of a case. It is materially no different than classical expungement offered by other states.

Get Details of Your Conviction

You will need to analyze the details of your case with a criminal defense attorneylike you can file for expungement. There are several ways you can get these, but the most likely way is ordering them from the court where you were convicted.

Some convictions can be petitioned to be expunged because you have completed certain requirements, whereas others will be left to the courts to decide because not all requirements have been met. Finally, there are some cases where expungement is not possible.

Who Can Qualify?

Although there are some exceptions, if you have completed probation or you never had probation, you qualify for expungement, regardless of whether your crime is a felony or a misdemeanor. If you’re still on probation, you will need to ask for early termination of probation and only then you will be eligible. However, if you have been to state prison, you will not be eligible for expungement and will need to seek other routes, like asking a pardon, or certificate of rehabilitation.

How to Apply

If you qualify, your next step is obtaining all the necessary paperwork. California has a specialized form for these cases called PC 1203 form. It is filled in by ticking certain boxes in it. There are some other forms you may need, and your criminal defense attorney will help you through the whole process.

It is possible to everything without an attorney, but the language used in legal proceedings is often complicated and exact that you are better off with a professional at your side. If you can get someone who has had previous experience with these cases, it can even shorten the amount of time the whole process will last.

Filing the Request

Once you have filled in the paperwork, it is time to actually file for the expungement. You will need to find the clerk of the court and submit these papers. In most cases, there is a fee that you need to pay, but you may be eligible for a fee waive. The amount you need to pay varies from county to county and whether you are expunging a felony or a misdemeanor.

If your plea is accepted, you will need to go to a hearing. The original prosecutor in your case will be notified, and they can file an objection to the process, but the judge is the one who decides whether there is credence to your plea. If your plea is denied, you can retry this process.

Once you have your case expunged, you will have all the rights that a person without a criminal record has, and many different employment and housing opportunities will become open to you once again.