What is an expungement?
Under California Penal Code 1203.4, an expungement releases an individual from “all penalties and disabilities” arising out of the offense he or she was convicted of.
An expungement is a process where a former offender convicted of a crime can request the Court to remove or “expunge” their conviction. The expungement will cause your case to be reopened, your previous guilty plea or verdict withdrawn, and then the charge dismissed. It will now show on your criminal record that it was dismissed in the interests of justice.
A person is eligible for an expungement if they have completed probation, paid all their court fines and fees, completed their sentence and fulfilled any Court obligations. If an expungement is granted by the Court, you can legally say you were never convicted of that crime. This is especially helpful on job applications. Your criminal record or “rap sheet” will show a former conviction but then a later dismissal by expungement.
You are not eligible for an expungement if you have current pending criminal charges, are still on probation for a prior conviction, still in jail serving a sentence, or went to state prison on your prior conviction (unless due to the Realignment laws you would have served that time in a county jail).
The theory behind an expungement is that the Court wants to forgive those that made a prior mistake and wipe the slate clean of their record. This is important for most people when they are applying for jobs. Most employers do not want to hire convicted criminals. If you have multiple convictions or have been non-compliant with the probation and Court orders, you may be denied an expungement. It is crucial that you have a good criminal defense attorney to help you through the complex and confusing process to make sure your chances of getting your conviction expunged are at the highest.
What crimes can be expunged?
Most misdemeanors and felonies can be expunged. Some more serious felonies and certain sex crimes cannot be expunged. However, in those cases, you may be eligible to get a certificate of rehabilitation or a California governor’s pardon.
How much does it cost to have your record expunged in Orange County, California?
To file the proper paperwork requesting an expungement in Orange County will cost a filing fee of $60 for a misdemeanor conviction and $150 for a felony conviction. However, to assure that your paperwork is filled out right and includes the necessary documents to have your expungement granted, you will need to hire a good criminal defense attorney.
How long does it take to expunge a misdemeanor in Orange County, California?
Once you file the proper documents to request an expungement, it usually takes between 30-60 days to get a response from the Court whether or not your expungement has been granted. In some cases, you may want a hearing in front of the Judge to ask for an expungement. A hearing can be scheduled anywhere from 45-90 days from the day you file your expungement paperwork. In some cases where a Judge might not want to grant an expungement, you will want to request a hearing and have a good criminal defense attorney advocate on your behalf to get it granted.
How do you get a felony expunged in Orange County, California?
Similar to requesting a misdemeanor expungement, the proper paperwork must be filed with the Court and the filing fee paid. However, unlike a misdemeanor expungement, felony expungements are more complex and usually require a motion to be submitted along with any declarations and exhibits that might help your expungement be granted. It is important to have a good criminal defense attorney write a good thorough and accurate motion on your behalf with the correct documents attached. Also, your criminal defense attorney will ask the Court to reduce your felony to a misdemeanor for certain charges that qualify before even asking for an expungement. That way your record is not only reducing your prior felony to a misdemeanor, but then also expunging it.
Do expunged records show on background checks for employment?
Nowadays, background checks are more detailed and include everything. So it could show your prior conviction but then will immediately show that it was then dismissed by the expungement. No employer is allowed to use this information against you when considering hiring you for a job. And you can legally say “No, I do not have any prior convictions” once your expungement is granted on any job applications except if you are applying for a job as a police officer, applying for a state license, or applying for a job with the State Lottery Commission.
Is expunged the same as dismissed?
There are many types of dismissals. An expungement is a dismissal that is specifically under Penal Code 1203.4 – “in the interests of justice.”
How long does it take for your record to clear after expungement?
It should clear immediately. Once your expungement is granted, you will get a copy of the signed Judge’s Order granting the expungement and the Court will send certified copies to the necessary entities such as the Department of Justice to update your criminal record.
Can you have a felony expunged in Orange County, California?
Yes. Some more serious felonies and certain sex crimes cannot be expunged. However, in those cases, you may be eligible to get a certificate of rehabilitation or a California governor’s pardon.
Do expunged records show up on federal background checks?
Yes. Federal background checks are very thorough and detailed just like any other government or licensing entity checks and will show your prior conviction and then the later expungement and dismissal. But, are legally allowed to put on any federal applications when they ask if you have any convictions “No” if your record has been expunged. The exceptions to this is if you are applying to be a police officer, applying for any state license, or applying for a job with the State Lottery Commission.
Does expungement clear your record?
Yes. It wipes the slate clean and allows your prior record not to be used against you. You can now legally say that you have no prior convictions. However, it will not be completely erased off your record (like it was never there at all).
What an expungement will not do:
It is important to note that an expungement will not
- Remove the conviction completely from your criminal record or rap sheet. It will still show the conviction and then the later dismissal.
- Reinstate the right to possess firearms if it was previously taken away.
- Remove any sex offender registration requirements
- Allow you to omit the conviction from government issued license applications
- Completely seal or otherwise remove the court case file from public inspection
- Prevent the prior conviction from being used as a “prior” to increase punishment if you later face criminal charges
- Prevent the INS from using this conviction to deport or remove you from the U.S. (although some convictions have beneficial immigration consequences if expunged.)