If you have been convicted of a criminal offense in California, you may be eligible for a procedure known as expungement. This legal process involves filing a petition to ask a judge to dismiss a prior conviction, effectively removing it from your criminal record. Whether or not you are eligible for expungement depends on multiple factors, including the particulars of your case, the severity of your crime, and your criminal history.
To determine if you qualify for expungement, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Orange Country lawyer. Although some cases are a straightforward yes or no, it may be possible for a skilled defense attorney to negotiate expungement in situations where you may be initially deemed ineligible. In many ways, expungement is the fresh start people need to get their lives back. Do not attempt to navigate this complex process on your own. Contact The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian today at 855-918-4253 for a confidential consultation about your case.
Generally speaking, to qualify for expungement in California, you must have been assigned probation—and not sentenced to prison—for the crime in question. Furthermore, you must have completed that probation without any serious issues. Any outstanding fees, fines, and restitution also need to be paid, and you cannot have been convicted of another crime.
All that being said, an experienced expungement lawyer may be able to get an exception made if you ran into problems while on probation. To do this, your attorney will position you in the most favorable light possible to show that your convictions do not align with your true character; in essence, you made mistakes and you have learned your lesson.
Contrary to popular belief, there is not a waiting period for expungement in California. As long as you have successfully completed probation, you can file for expungement the next day. In fact, when it comes to expungement, the sooner the better.
How Does Expungement Actually Work?
The primary reason for seeking expungement is to clear a criminal record. Having a conviction, even for a relatively minor offense, can haunt you for years. It can negatively impact your ability to get a job, housing, loans, and can even jeopardize an existing or future child custody arrangement. When you have a conviction expunged, it will be marked as DISMISSED on your criminal record.
Can I Answer “No” to the Question, Have You Ever Been Convicted?
The short answer is—usually. If you are applying for a job with a private employer, you can legally answer “No” when asked if you have ever been convicted for that particular crime. If, however, you are applying for a governmental job or one that requires a government license, you should admit the expunged conviction and explain that it has since been dismissed.
Can I Get a Felony Conviction Expunged?
Believe it or not, you can absolutely reduce or expunge a felony conviction. An experienced defense lawyer may be able to have a felony offense reduced to a misdemeanor even before expungement, effectively removing the label of “ex-felon” and restoring rights lost due to the felony conviction.
Only certain types of felonies are eligible for expungement, however. For starters, if you received a jail or prison sentence for the conviction, you are not eligible. Under California Prop 47, felonies that can be reduced to misdemeanors include certain drug crimes and certain convictions for theft, fraud, and forgery. Registered sex offenders and individuals who have been convicted of violent crimes are generally disqualified from expungement.
The primary purpose of Prop 47 is to focus prison spending on particularly serious and violent offenders, while utilizing alternative sentencing programs for nonviolent offenders who may be better served by mental health programs, drug and alcohol rehab, and community service. Once the felony has been reduced to a lesser offense, the individual may be eligible for expungement. An Orange County defense lawyer can help. Contact The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian today at 855-918-4253 for a confidential consultation about your case.
How Long is the Expungement Process?
In most cases, your attorney can have your petition for expungement filed within 48 hours of your initial consultation. Once filed, it generally takes approximately 45 days to receive a ruling from the court. Although some courts process expungements in less time, and some courts drag it out even longer than 45 days. Bottom line—the sooner you get started, the sooner you can get your fresh start.
Do not fall victim to the common misconception that convictions are automatically removed from background searches after a seven-year period. Although the Federal Credit Reporting Act prohibits background and credit reporting agencies from disclosing information related to convictions older than seven years, this information is commonly included. Many reporting agencies claim to fall outside the law, and some simply ignore the rule altogether.
Contact The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian Today
If you have been convicted of a criminal offense, the skilled legal team at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian can help. Prevent an old conviction from coming back to bite you by starting the expungement process today. Our experienced lawyers have been helping clients throughout Orange County get the fresh starts they need for more than 16 years. Do not attempt to go through this complex process without highly-skilled legal counsel. Contact The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian today at 855-918-4253 for a confidential consultation about your case.