If you've been found guilty of a misdemeanor violation in California, you could be able to have that conviction expunged from your criminal record under California PEN 1203.4 PC. This process could give you a sense of calm and relief by removing the burden of a criminal background from your life. If you wish to expunge a criminal record in Los Angeles, get in touch with us at the Record Expungement Attorney for help. 

What Does it Mean to Have Your Criminal Record Expunged?

An expungement absolves you of the implications of your previous conviction. It bars a prospective employer from using your last criminal conviction when hiring you or even bringing it up during the interview process.

As a result, Penal Code § 1203.4 states that getting your record expunged is a crucial step in ensuring that a previous conviction for an offense does not have a lasting effect on your professional or personal life. It's vital to note that California State has no structured process for expungement that would entirely erase a criminal record.

Contrary to the commonly held assumption, appealing for expungement doesn't imply requesting that your record be erased or removed from your record. Instead, when your record is expunged, your conviction or guilty plea is removed and substituted with an irreversible non-guilty plea. Your case is then dismissed.

An expungement procedure makes it appear as though your conviction never happened. After your record has been expunged, you are permitted to genuinely state on a job application that you've never been found guilty of any offense.

Some background checks still will reflect the record and the dismissal. However, it is prohibited by law for an employer to use a dismissed record against you when making recruitment decisions. Although state courts issue many yearly expungements, only some offenses remain eligible.

California Misdemeanors That Can Be Expunged

Many offenses can be expunged under California PEN 1203.4, provided the sentence does not include a state prison sentence.

California's maximum sentence for a misdemeanor offense is 364 days in jail. Hence the majority of misdemeanor convictions are qualified for an expunction. Misdemeanor offenses that are often expunged include:

  • Petty theft
  • Simple battery
  • Domestic battery
  • Shoplifting
  • Simple assault
  • Causing a disturbance
  • Indecent exposure
  • Violating probation terms
  • Refusal to comply with a restraining order
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Trespassing
  • Prostitution solicitation
  • Prostitution
  • Receiving stolen goods
  • Public intoxication
  • Misdemeanor DUI
  • Reckless driving
  • Simple drug possession
  • Driving with a suspended license

In California, some misdemeanor convictions, particularly sex offenses that involve children, are not qualified to receive an expungement. Furthermore, under state law, neither federal felonies nor federal misdemeanors can be expunged. Our lawyers can determine whether you are eligible for federal expungement procedures if you have been found guilty of a federal crime.

Are Misdemeanors the Only Offenses Eligible for an Expunction?

No, some felonies can also be expunged under California criminal statutes. To qualify for an expunction under California expungement laws, you should have the following:

  • Completed your probation, and
  • Not currently:
  • Facing any criminal charges
  • Serving a probationary term for another offense
  • Serving time in prison for a separate offense

Additionally, you typically should not have completed your term in a county jail rather than in a state prison.

Suppose you were serving a prison sentence at any moment throughout the term, based on the judge's initial decision or violating your probation terms. In that case, it often disqualifies the charge from being eligible for expungement.

On the other hand, the Prop 47 Realignment Act makes several exceptions to this provision. You might still be qualified for an expungement if you served a county jail sentence instead of a state prison sentence for a crime after 2011. The judge has the option of granting an expungement in this situation.

Some felonies cannot have been eligible for an expunction. These often include serious child sex offenses. Some examples are:

  • Sodomy involving a minor under California Penal Code section 286(c)
  • Statutory rape under California Penal Code section 261.5(d)
  • Lewd acts with a minor under California Penal Code section 288 PC
  • Oral copulation with a minor under California Penal Code section 287(c) PC)

What Does the California Expungement Procedure Entail?

When a criminal record is expunged under California laws, the criminal charges are dropped "in the interests of justice", and the conviction is overturned or vacated. If you admitted guilt or entered a no-contest plea to your allegations, an expungement enables you to retract your plea and submit a not-guilty plea. The court will then have the option to drop your charges.

If you were found guilty, the court would annul your conviction, drop your charges, and nullify the guilty verdict as part of the expungement procedure. You may be qualified to petition for expungement when you meet the following criteria:

  • You successfully managed to complete probation, if you had been mandated to serve a probationary term
  • You weren't required to serve a sentence in a state prison, nor could your sentence have been completed in a county jail due to "realignment"
  • You have completed community service, paid fines and reparations, completed education sessions or programs for behavioral or drug/alcohol misuse, and complied with all other conditions of your sentencing
  • There are no pending criminal accusations against you, and you're not currently incarcerated or serving a probation term

There are various steps involved in the California expungement procedure. You can maneuver these processes with the assistance of our skilled and trusted legal team, who will treat your case with the attention it warrants. If you are qualified to submit a request for an expungement, our attorneys will proceed by:

  • Preparing the documents that were used during your conviction, such as the records from your misdemeanor charge's court hearings, your arrest and law enforcement records, and any papers related to your charges
  • Confirming your qualification for expunction. If you're presently on probation as a result of your violation, our attorneys must be successful in their effort to have your probation terminated early before submitting your expungement petition
  • Putting together the final expungement petition. To request an expungement, you can file a petition in writing with the court using one of the many specific forms available, or we could do it for you
  • Presenting your case before the court in which you were found guilty. The city or district attorney should be notified of your application and given a chance to raise an objection
  • Guaranteeing that your request is heard without unnecessary delay. The city or district attorney's office may raise objections, and the judge will also take into account your attorney's arguments in favor of approving the request at the hearing

You will be issued an expungement order. If the judge approves your application, the court will explain its decision if your request is rejected. Suppose you've already filed for an expungement, and the petition was dismissed for reasons besides insufficient eligibility. In that case, your attorney can address any flaws in your request and file another appeal after 6 months have lapsed from the day your request was initially declined.

How Long Should You Wait Before Beginning the Expungement Procedure?

If you wish to have your criminal conviction expunged, you must usually wait until you have served your probation. You might also be required to wait two years to start the process when the sentence was for a felony defined under the Prop 47 Realignment Act.

Before becoming eligible, you must fulfill all the terms and conditions of your probationary period, regardless of whether it's a summary or formal probation.

This involves paying any reparations to victims and completing necessary community service duties. You could finish probation sooner if you're keen to have the record expunged. Before beginning the expungement procedure, you must first obtain an order from the court granting an early cessation of probation.

You might have a more challenging time obtaining an expungement if you breached the conditions of your probation. However, it is still possible. The court can convene a special session to determine if the probation violation should be overlooked in the interest of justice.

If you hire a local law practice, your lawyer will likely bundle these petitions together. You may simultaneously apply for an expungement and an early cessation of the probation. If the crime was pursued as a wobbler, your attorney might potentially submit a petition to lower the charge from a felony charge to a misdemeanor.

Documents Needed to File for an Expungement

To obtain an expungement after pleading guilty or entering a no-contest plea to the charges, you must submit a request for dismissal. First, you must withdraw your guilty plea and file another one of not guilty. You could ask the judge to toss out the court records or verdict if the conviction was obtained through a jury trial. A court hearing will be convened when completed.

During the proceeding, you or your counsel must demonstrate that expunging the record from your rap sheet is in the best interests of justice. If the court concurs with you, your conviction will be overturned, and the case dismissed.

Nevertheless, the prosecutor must be alerted fifteen days before the expunction hearing. This will allow the district/city attorney enough time to contest the expungement. The prosecutor cannot challenge the expungement later if they do not object.

A filing fee must also be paid. The sum is determined by the county and the nature of the offense being expunged. In general, expunging infractions have the lowest filing charge, whereas expunging felonies have the highest filing fee.

The Benefits of Having Your Misdemeanor Record Expunged

An expungement removes almost every one of the consequences and restrictions imposed by your conviction. The perks of having your criminal record expunged, even when it's a misdemeanor charge, are substantial. A few advantages include the following:

  • Making it easy to acquire a new job
  • Keeping or becoming qualified for a professional license or certificates, such as for real estate
  • Becoming qualified to join professional associations
  • Not having your previous conviction used as evidence against you in a subsequent court case, and
  • Reducing the stigmatization that comes with having a criminal history

One of the most significant advantages of an expungement is the ability to conceal the record from different background checks, such as those that look up FBI databases. This could make finding work and earning a living much more straightforward, even after serving time behind bars.

However, there are several things that a record expungement will need to be addressed. Among them are:

  • Overturning a driver's license revocation or suspension
  • Reinstating the legal right to keep and carry arms in California, or
  • Eliminating the requirement to register yourself as a sexual offender

You can only overcome these challenges with a:

  • Governor's pardon
  • Certificate of Rehabilitation (COR)

Furthermore, an arrest record may not be sealed even if a criminal record is expunged.

Why You Need an Expungement Attorney to Help Expunge Your Misdemeanor Record

Obtaining the expungement for a misdemeanor charge is only sometimes successful. There are restrictions on who is eligible for expungement, and any mistakes or errors in your motion for expungement could result in the court rejecting your request.

Allow a misdemeanor expungement attorney to provide you with the reassurance that comes from knowing your application is in competent hands. Your attorney  will handle all of the formalities of obtaining expungement for you, including:

  • Gathering your case's records, such as police statements, trial transcripts, and court orders
  • Determining whether you qualify for an expungement
  • Overcoming any hurdles to your request for expungement, such as providing evidence that all penalties and reparations have been paid or submitting a request for an early probationary release
  • Putting together and submitting your expungement request
  • Representing you before the court and arguing in support of your application

Contact an Expungement Lawyer Near Me

Due to the state's stringent legal framework, a misdemeanor conviction could make it difficult for an individual to obtain work, go to school, or even find housing in California. If you've ever been found guilty of a California misdemeanor, you may wish to have your conviction expunged from your rap sheet.

We at the Record Expungement Attorney in Los Angeles can assist you in having a misdemeanor conviction expunged from your record. Don't hesitate to contact our office at 424-286-1516 if you want to speak with a lawyer about your matter or to have a conviction erased from your record.