Whenever a person has successfully served his or her time in prison or jail or completed his or her probation, they are said to have paid their dues to society and are prepared to return to their normal lives. However, it quickly becomes clear that someone's criminal past could have a long-term, if not permanent, impact on their lives in the future.

For certain offenses, like sexual assault, an offender risks his or her record being available to the public for people to be assured that the convicted person will not be capable of repeating similar crimes. For virtually any offense, the records can be revealed by any inquiry, which can limit the individual's foreseeable future, from getting jobs to obtaining landlords’ approvals. Additionally, many employers now carry out background checks to assess any potential employees. Sometimes, even a sentence from many years ago can affect a person's prospects of finding a job.

Considering the negative impacts that these criminal records could have on someone's future, the California Legislature allows for legal proceedings to erase the records, allowing the past offense to genuinely become a thing of the past and not affect the person's future in any way. This blog discusses the requirements as well as the procedures a person can follow to have their criminal records cleared in Los Angeles.

The Basics of a California Criminal Record Expungement

An expungement is described as a practice of lawfully destroying, wiping out, or getting rid of documents or information relevant to criminal allegations in files, databases, or any other depositories. In the absence of these kinds of expungements, records of criminal convictions continue to be available to law enforcement authorities and, throughout many cases, the general public.

These records, if expunged, are no longer accessible for either law enforcement agencies or civil purposes. However, in exceptional circumstances, the expunged information can be accessed, recovered, and also used; but even so, this happens only in rare circumstances that generally necessitate a warrant from a court or legal authorization.

This expungement applies to a broad range of records. Criminal records in any courts, jail facilities, law enforcement agencies, or any criminal justice body will be impacted. Specifically, documents about an individual's detention, seizure, arrest, incarceration, trial, or adjudication of a crime within the legal justice system are approved for expungement. An expungement has the impact of erasing someone's criminal history of arrest or conviction, which is legally judged not to have happened.

You can have your criminal records expunged only if the following conditions are met:

  • You have satisfied the terms of probation for the whole probationary term or if you have been discharged before the conclusion of the probation term

  • Alternatively, in another case when a court, in its authority as well as for justice, considers that an expungement must be issued (California Penal Code 1203.4)

  • Additionally, if you had been found guilty of a misdemeanor but not granted probation you could, at any moment after one year since the judgment was passed, when you have fully adhered to and completed the court-mandated sentence, you are not serving time in prison for any wrongdoing, you are not being charged for the commissioning of any offense, and you have, since the decision of the court, lived a genuine and righteous life and you have adhered to and strictly followed the laws (California Penal Code1203.4 a)

  • If you were below 18 years when you committed a misdemeanor and you are eligible for or have previously obtained the relief made available by California Penal Code 1203.4 or 1203.4a, you could file a motion with the court to issue sealing your record of conviction as well as other legal records in your case, along with arrest records leading to the criminal proceedings and records pertaining other criminal offenses charged, regardless of whether you were charged or acquitted

It should be noted that anybody who files for an order to seal a record under this penal code could be forced to pay the county for the exact costs of services performed, regardless of whether the motion is granted or not. California Penal Code 1203.

How to Clear a Criminal Record in Los Angeles

Expunging a criminal record entails the five stages outlined below:

Hiring an Attorney

An expungement procedure is complicated, time-consuming, as well as paperwork-intensive. There are numerous risks for errors that could result in an application being declined. However, a seasoned criminal defense attorney knows how he or she can effectively conduct the necessary procedures and ensure that you get it right on the first trial.

Fill Out the Relevant Paper Forms

An experienced criminal defense lawyer understands the most appropriate forms to utilize in different situations. Alternatively, many expungement application paperwork can be found at the respective courthouse or by conducting a simple online search.

If you have completed your criminal probation, for instance, you can file a petition to the court to expunge a misdemeanor record under Penal Code 1203.4. probation term is not fulfilled, you can petition the court to terminate the probation. If the request for termination has been denied, the defendant will file a motion for dismissal.

It is important to keep in mind that felony charges can't be expunged till they have been reduced to misdemeanor charges. Wobblers (offenses that can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies) are frequently reduced to misdemeanors by the courts when the defendant files a petition for reduction. Non-wobbler felony charges, on the other hand, can only be dropped to misdemeanors by completing a form under Penal Code 17(b). You can then petition the court to expunge a misdemeanor charge under Penal Code 1203.4.

It is also important to bear in mind that defendants need to complete out a separate form for every record that is to be erased. Character references could also be included with the expungement request by the defendant.

Submit an Expungement Request

Once the relevant forms have been completed, they have to be submitted to the court where your case was heard. Typically, the court will respond to your request in five months. Each court does have its own set of regulations and charges. Forms for expungement should sometimes be submitted individually or mailed to the court.

It is vital to file paperwork on time. For instance, if you are applying for an expungement of your criminal record, you need to give the prosecutor a minimum of 15 days' notice before your court hearing. This allows the prosecution to assess the matter and challenge it if necessary.

Economically disadvantaged petitioners may be eligible for financial help to offset filing fees.

Get Ready For Your Expungement Hearing

If or not you are required to be present at your expungement hearing is determined by the facts of your case. Your criminal defense lawyer will keep you updated and, when needed, assist in preparing for your hearing.

Finally, the judge decides whether or not to grant an expungement. There are no jurors present at an expungement hearing. The d Defendants are more certain to get their criminal records expunged if they can keep their jobs, have no further charges, and have done all mandatory community service.

Refile If the Record Expungement Petition has been Denied. Seal the Expungement If the Expungement is Granted

When the judge refuses to grant you the expungement, you will have six months to file another petition including any necessary revisions.

When the judge approves the expungement petition, your defense lawyer has to seal the case so that it is no longer publicly available. In most cases, defendants can claim that they have never had a criminal background. However, there are certain exceptions, such as when the defendant wants to run for public office, puts in an application for a state permit, or applies for a job with the California Lottery Commission.

Receiving an expungement in California has many advantages. Among the most important are:

  • A prospective employer will not bias against a potential employee based on expunged convictions

  • It will be easy to get a California professional license

  • Expunged records can't be brought in court to impair somebody's trustworthiness as a case witness (except if the individual is the accused being prosecuted in the preceding case)

  • in certain cases, assisting in the avoidance of certain immigration penalties, like deportation

Limitations of Disclosing Expunged Records to Prospective Employers

In the past few years, the significance of a Penal Code 1203.4 record expungement has risen. It is why an individual's criminal background was previously less likely to be unveiled by someone else other than enforcement agencies. However, information businesses began compiling criminal court files into huge national directories that can be accessed by name as well as birth dates.

This modern technology enables prospective employers, licensure agencies, and also professional associations to carry out a background investigation in seconds and uncover a criminal history quickly.

Here's where the advantages of a legal expungement play a big role. Prospective employers now can quickly get to know about someone's criminal charges. However, when a criminal record has been wiped, they can not utilize it to dismiss a job seeker.

What an Expungement can not Do for You

Unfortunately, a criminal record expungement under PC 1203.4 has some constraints. An expungement, for instance, will not:

  • restore a driver's license that has been suspended or revoked

  • reinstate California gun ownership rights under California PC 29800

  • end the necessity to register as a sex offender in California under PC 290

Expunged convictions might still be utilized as past convictions to increase punishment. For example, if an individual is later convicted for an additional DUI charge, a dismissed DUI conviction will still count as a prior.

Furthermore, an expunged record that would have counted as a "strike" as per California's three-strikes legislation is still considered a strike.

How to Get Relief that an Expungement Cannot Provide

Additional rights are frequently recovered through other post-conviction relief options.

Among them are:

  • A California Certificate of Rehabilitation and/or

  • A Governor's pardon

When Are You Eligible to File for a California Penal Code 1203.4 Expungement?

An individual who qualifies under Penal Code 1203.4 can file a petition with the court for the expungement of a criminal record before the:

  • Completion of his or her probationary term or

  • Premature termination of the probationary term(which has to be imposed by the court)

It should be noted that someone who is eligible under PC 1203.42 could file a petition with the court only if a minimum of two decades have gone by after the end of his/her sentence.

Can You File For Both an Early Termination and an Expungement at the Same Time?

An attorney can often speed up the expungement procedure by "packaging" several petitions into one. Among the most widespread instances of this packaging is petitioning the court to do the following in one court hearing:

  • Allow the probationary term to be terminated early (whereby the court will have the alternative of allowing provided the petitioner has complied with the conditions of his/her probation)

  • Lower a felony charge (in circumstances where the criminal offense is considered a "wobbler", that is, an offense that the district attorney could either have presented as a misdemeanor or a felony)

  • Expunge a criminal record

Since a criminal record can follow you for the rest of your life, it is critical to have legal counsel to defend your case. Although it is possible to handle the processes on your own, numerous steps should be performed timely and efficiently before the court can accept your expungement request. An expungement attorney can guide you on state ordinances and help safeguard your rights throughout the process.

Contact an Expungement Attorney Near Me

Would you like to have your criminal records expunged to get a fresh start in life? Contact the Record Expungement Attorney today to schedule a free consultation. Our Los Angeles expungement lawyers can assist you in weighing your options. Call us at 424-286-1516 today.