Having a criminal record, particularly for a drug charge, can have serious consequences on your future. A drug charge criminal record can impact your ability to find employment, housing, and even educational opportunities. However, you may be eligible to have the drug charge expunged, which means it will be removed from your public record. This process can provide a fresh start and restore some of the rights and freedoms that were lost due to the criminal conviction. In this blog, we will explore the ins and outs of expunging a drug charge in California, including eligibility requirements, the steps involved in the process, and the potential benefits of a successful petition.
Understanding Expungement and Eligibility for Expungement?
Expungement entails destroying criminally related information in computers, files, and other depositories. In California, if an individual has been convicted of a drug charge, they may be eligible for expungement if they meet certain criteria. To be eligible, they must have completed their sentence, including any probation, and not be facing any new criminal charges. Individuals who were charged with a drug offense but not convicted may also be eligible to have their records sealed.
The type of drug charge, the individual's criminal history, and the circumstances surrounding the case will also be considered when determining eligibility for expungement. For instance, you might not be eligible if:
- You were convicted of a felony drug charge for which probation was not granted.
- You were convicted of a serious drug offense, such as drug trafficking or sales to minors.
- You have multiple drug convictions.
If you are not eligible for expungement, you might still be eligible for record sealing. So, you should seek legal counsel to determine eligibility and guide you through the expungement or record sealing process.
Steps to Expunging a Drug Charge Criminal Record in Los Angeles
The first step to expunging a drug charge is determining if you are eligible for expungement. Then you can follow these steps to file a petition for expungement:
Obtain Necessary Court Documents
To file a petition for expungement, you will need to obtain a copy of your criminal record, including the conviction and sentence, and any relevant court documents. You can obtain these documents from the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Complete the Petition
Next, you will need to complete a petition for expungement, which can be obtained from the court or an experienced record expungement or criminal defense attorney. The petition should include details of the drug charge, the sentence, and your eligibility for expungement.
File the Petition with the Court
Once you have completed the petition, you must file it with the appropriate Los Angeles Superior Court, along with the necessary filing fee. The fee will vary depending on the type of case and the court, so it is best to check with the court for the exact amount.
Serve Notice to the District Attorney's Office
You must provide notice to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office of the petition for expungement. This step is crucial as the district attorney may object to the petition, and their objections must be considered by the court.
Attend the Court Hearing
The final step in the process is to attend a court hearing, where the judge will consider the petition and determine whether to grant or deny the expungement. It is advisable to have an experienced criminal defense attorney present at the hearing to represent your interests and make arguments in favor of granting the expungement.
What Are The Chances of a Successful Petition?
You might be eligible for expungement, then file an expungement petition, but the success of a petition is never a guarantee. It’s difficult to determine the exact chances of success on an individual’s petition, but here are some factors that can affect the outcome.
Objections by the District Attorney: The district attorney may object to the expungement petition, and their objections must be considered by the court. The district attorney may object based on your criminal history or the nature of the offense.
Timing: The timing of the petition can also impact the success of the expungement. If an individual files their petition too soon after completing their sentence, the court may consider the petition premature. On the other hand, if an individual waits too long, the court may consider the petition stale.
In general, it is recommended to wait at least a year after completing the sentence before filing the petition, as the court may consider the petition premature if filed too soon. It is also important to note that the statute of limitations for filing an expungement petition varies based on the type of conviction. For example, there is no statute of limitations for a felony conviction, while the statute of limitations for a misdemeanor conviction is two years.
Evidence: Strong evidence in support of the expungement petition, such as evidence of rehabilitation and good conduct, can increase the chances of success. An individual who has taken steps to turn their life around, such as completing drug treatment or education programs, may have a better chance of having their record expunged.
Representation: Having an experienced record expungement attorney to represent you and make arguments in favor of the expungement can increase the chances of success. An attorney can assist in gathering and presenting the necessary evidence and making arguments before the court.
Effects of a Successful Expungement
A successful expungement of a drug charge has several effects on an individual's criminal record:
First, the expunged conviction will no longer appear on the individual's legal record as a conviction. The individual may legally state that they have not been convicted of the crime.
Second, the expunged conviction will not appear on most criminal background checks, which are conducted by employers, landlords, and licensing agencies. However, certain employers and licensing agencies, such as law enforcement, government agencies, and healthcare organizations, may still have access to expunged criminal records.
Third, an expunged conviction may still be considered for purposes of sentencing for future crimes. This means that if the individual is convicted of a crime in the future, the court may consider their prior expunged conviction when imposing a sentence.
Lastly, an expunged conviction may restore an individual's eligibility for certain benefits, such as the right to vote, own firearms, or serve on a jury.
It is also important to understand that an expunged conviction may still have an impact on an individual's future, even if it is no longer considered a conviction. It is recommended to consult with an experienced record expungement attorney or a career counselor to understand the specific effects of a successful expungement on your criminal record.
Do I Need An Attorney During The Expungement Process?
You can file a petition for expungement without the assistance of a lawyer, but doing so can be challenging and time-consuming. Hiring a lawyer for the expungement process is strongly advised for the best chances of a successful outcome. An attorney can provide guidance and support throughout the entire process, including:
- Eligibility: An attorney can help determine if you are eligible for expungement and advise on the best course of action.
- Filing the Petition: An attorney can assist in preparing and filing the petition for expungement, ensuring that all necessary information and documents are included and that the petition is filed in the proper court.
- Representation in Court: An attorney can represent you in court and argue on your behalf, increasing the chances of a successful outcome.
- Knowledge of Laws and Regulations: An attorney is familiar with the specific laws and regulations related to expungement in California and can use this knowledge to guide you through the process.
- Assistance with Objections: If objections are raised during the expungement process, an attorney can help address and resolve these objections.
- Post-Expungement Issues: An attorney can assist with any post-expungement issues that may arise, such as correcting errors on your criminal record or restoring your eligibility for certain benefits.
Expungement Vs. Record Sealing
Record sealing and expungement of drug charges are two different legal procedures in California that can help individuals with criminal records improve their future prospects. While both processes have the goal of hiding or destroying certain records, they are not the same thing and have different requirements, eligibility criteria, and outcomes.
Expungement of a drug charge refers to the legal process of destroying or erasing a criminal record. This means that, after the expungement process is complete, the individual's record will be treated as if it never existed. The individual may legally say that they have not been convicted of the crime and the expunged record will not appear on most background checks.
Record sealing, on the other hand, involves hiding a criminal record from the public view. The record is not destroyed, but it is kept confidential and is not accessible to the public or to most employers. The individual may not legally deny the conviction, but the sealed record will not appear on most background checks.
When it comes to drug charges, expungement is generally considered to be the more comprehensive solution. However, eligibility for expungement is more restrictive than for record sealing and the process is more complex. On the other hand, record sealing is more readily available and is typically a quicker and less expensive process.
Ultimately, the decision between record sealing and expungement of a drug charge in California will depend on the individual's specific circumstances and the outcome they are looking to achieve. A record expungement attorney can provide guidance and help determine the best course of action.
Common Misconceptions About Expungement of a Drug Charge
Here are some of the common misconceptions about expunging a drug charge in California:
Expungement automatically happens after a certain period of time: Simply waiting for a certain amount of time to pass will not result in an expungement. You must take proactive steps and file a petition for expungement in order for the record to be considered for erasure.
Expungement means the record is completely destroyed: While the goal of expungement is to erase a criminal record, it does not guarantee complete destruction. Some government agencies and organizations may still have access to the records.
Any drug charge can be expunged: Not all drug charges are eligible for expungement. Only certain types of drug offenses can be considered for expungement and the eligibility criteria are specific.
Expungement guarantees employment: Expungement can improve employment opportunities, but it does not guarantee employment. The expunged record may still appear on certain background checks and some employers may still have access to the information.
Expungement is a one-time process: Expungement can only be granted once for a particular conviction and cannot be undone.
How Long Does Expunging a Drug Charge Take?
The time it takes to expunge a drug charge in California can vary depending on several factors, such as the court’s workload, the complexity of the case, and the type of offense. On average, the expungement process can take anywhere from several months to a year or more.
Once a petition for expungement is filed, it will typically take several weeks for the court to review the petition and make a decision. If the petition is granted, you must then wait for the expungement order to be processed, which can take several more weeks.
Consider consulting a seasoned expungement attorney to get a more accurate estimate of the timeline based on the specific details of your case.
Find a Los Angeles Drug Charge Expungement Attorney Near Me
The expungement of a drug charge can be a powerful tool if you are looking to improve your future prospects and move beyond a past mistake. It can erase your criminal record, making it easier to secure employment, housing, and other opportunities. However, expunging a drug charge can be time-consuming and challenging. So you should seek legal guidance from an experienced expungement attorney to increase the chances of a successful petition.
If you wish to expunge a drug charge in the Los Angeles area, you can count on us at the Record Expungement Attorney. We deal exclusively with the expungement of criminal records, so you can trust that we will put personalized efforts into your case. Call us today at 424-286-1516.