Need an expungment to clear your criminal record? Have an attorney evaluate your situation at no charge.
Having a criminal conviction on your permanent record can have many effects on your life. Fortunately, California law recognizes that not everyone should spend the rest of their lives with a criminal conviction haunting them and, therefore, allows certain past offenders to obtain an expungement of their criminal records.
While obtaining an expungement is not always an easy process, a highly experienced Bay Area expungement lawyer at the Law Office of James Dunn can evaluate whether you may be eligible and will guide you through every step of the process so that you can move on with your life as soon as possible.
What Is an Expungement?
Many people believe that an expungement in California completely wipes your criminal record so that no one can find out about your past arrests, charges, or convictions. While this is not the case unless you are also able to have your record sealed and destroyed, an expungement can accomplish many other things.
The expungement process in California is commonly referred to as “clearing” or “dismissing” a conviction. If you qualify, your case will be reopened and a judge will set aside your conviction or guilty plea. You will then have the chance to plead not guilty and the judge can dismiss your case. Because your case was dismissed after your not-guilty plea, it will be as though you were not ever convicted of the offense.
I Have a Criminal Record. How Can an Expungement Help Me?
While your criminal record will still exist and evidence of your arrest and case history may be available to the public, an expungement can still help you in many ways. Perhaps the greatest benefit of obtaining an expungement is that it opens up more job prospects.
In San Mateo and San Jose, California law states that a prospective or current employer is prohibited from asking about any offense for which you were not convicted. Fortunately, this includes any offense for which you may have once been convicted but that the conviction has now been expunged.
With the widespread availability of criminal records these days, it is important that the law protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of an expunged conviction.
In addition to opening up employment opportunities, an expungement can similarly help in the following ways and more:
- Increase your chances of acceptance into higher education programs;
- Qualifying for financial aid;
- Obtaining certain professional licenses;
- Helping to prevent deportation or other immigration consequences of conviction;
- Preventing your conviction from coming up if you are a witness in future court proceedings.
While an expungement can benefit your life in many different ways, it cannot immediately solve all of the problems that may come with an initial conviction. For instance, an expungement will not accomplish any of the following:
What Does Expungement Not Accomplish?
- Expungement does not allow you to have your driver’s license reinstated if it is suspended or revoked;
- Expungement does not end sex offender registry requirements. (However please contact us to discuss other possible remedies to registration.)
- Expungement does not allow you purchase a firearm if you are subject to California’s Penal Code 29800;
- Expungement does not prevent authorities from charging you as a multiple offender in the future or counting your conviction as a strike for the purposes of our state’s “three strikes” law.
While an expungement is not all-powerful, it can result in long-lasting peace of mind that you will never have to address a conviction on a job application or in similar scenarios.
Following an expungement, you can honestly answer that you were not convicted of that offense, which can increase your chances of consideration for many different jobs.
What are the Qualifications for Expungement In San Mateo or Santa Clara Counties?
Not everyone who has been convicted of a criminal offense in California will be eligible to have the conviction expunged. Under the law, there are two major requirements to qualify for an expungement, which are as follows:
- There are no current pending criminal charges against you and you are not on probation or carrying out a sentence for another criminal conviction; and
- You successfully completed the term of probation designated for the conviction you want to have expunged.
Successful completion of probation requires that all conditions of your probation were met, including court dates, counseling, paying fines, and avoiding any new criminal cases. You may also qualify for an expungement if your probation ended early due to a motion for early termination being granted by the court.
- You did not spend time in state prison; and
- Your conviction was not for certain offenses specified under the law, including statutory rape, lewd acts with a child, and other sex offenses involving minors.
Expungements can be available for either misdemeanor or felony convictions so long as you did not serve time and the offense was not specified as disqualifying. In addition, it may be possible to have your felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor before the judge dismisses the case.
How Can an Attorney Help Me Get an Expungement?
Having a skilled criminal defense attorney who is thoroughly familiar with California law is critical to successfully obtaining an expungement. While the above criteria for an expungement may seem straightforward, this information is only an overview of the very complex laws and procedures of getting an expungement in our state. In reality, an experienced attorney will need to thoroughly review the details of your case to evaluate whether an expungement is a viable possibility for you or whether you may need to seek other types of legal relief.
In addition, seeking an expungement requires that the proper documents be completed and filed with the court in line with specific procedures and timeframes. Any inaccuracies or omissions on your paperwork can result in substantial delays or the denial of your expungement, so you always want the assistance of an experienced expungement lawyer during this process. Your lawyer can also advise you on the necessary filing fees, which can vary depending on the nature of your conviction and also from one county to the next.
Finally, an expungement requires a court hearing with the prosecutor and your defense attorney can appear at that hearing on your behalf. You may not even have to appear in court and may simply receive notice that the judge granted the expungement.
Discuss Your Options With a South Bay Expungement Attorney Today
At the Law Office of James Dunn, we have successfully obtained expungements for numerous clients who were previously convicted of crimes in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties and helped them improve their future opportunities. If you have a criminal record and would like to find out if you may be eligible for expungement, please contact our law office at 650-539-0809.