Those with a criminal record often regret their crimes for long into the future because while the punishment of the crime may have been minimal, lasting only a few years, living with a criminal record the rest of their life can be hard. You will have to disclose criminal convictions often, when applying for jobs or volunteer opportunities, when applying for housing or when applying for public assistance. If you have a criminal record, have fulfilled all the terms of your sentencing, e.g. you followed the terms of your probation and paid any fines or fees, you may be eager to move on from your conviction. This is understandable considered that many criminal convictions will stay on your record, if not dismissed, for your entire life. There may be hope for you and you may have a chance at cleaning up your record. One way to do so if to petition to have a conviction dismissed. This is the process of expunging your record. Expungment is essentially a cleaning of your record. The petition is for the court to open up your criminal case that ended in a conviction. Once open, the court can withdraw your plea or set aside that resulted in your conviction. This specifically is called a dismissal of the conviction. This expunges the conviction from your criminal record and for the most part, means you were never convicted in the first place. Expungement is not absolute. The case will remain, however, but the resulting conviction will no longer exist. This can have some benefits for employment purposes however you may still have to disclose a dismissed conviction. You may still have to disclose the conviction to governmental authorizes. Non-governmental California employers cannot inquire about a dismissed conviction and if they do find out about it, cannot use it as a reason to not hire you. This is the main benefit of expungement. Expungement is not a guarantee; it is a petition to the courts, which is like a request. The courts can deny your request if they do not find your request in the interest of justice. The process for getting a conviction expunged is not necessarily straightforward. The courts have a lot of discretion when it comes to expunging a criminal conviction. Only misdemeanor or felony charges on wobbler crimes, meaning they could have been charged as a misdemeanor, are eligible for expungement. Crimes against children, sex crimes and serious vehicle code violations are generally not eligible to be expunged. Similarly, if you were given a prison sentence along with your felony conviction, you cannot expunge the conviction. In these cases, however, you can apply for a certificate of rehabilitation, which can demonstrate to potential employers or landlords that you have been rehabilitation from your criminal ways and can be considered a trustworthy citizen again. Along with applying for a certificate of rehabilitation, you will automatically be considered for a pardon as well. However, both of these are only granted in rare cases and you may need an attorney to give you the best chance at your request being granted. Keep in mind that the process of expunging your record may vary from court to court. Contact the superior court in the county you were convicted for more information. They will be able to provide you information on how to petition for a dismissal of a charge following their guidelines. Keep in mind that expungement only alters the way a conviction shows up on your record. Expungement cannot restore your right to possess firearms, if that right was taken away as part of the conviction. An expunged conviction also does not relieve you from the responsibility to register as a sex offender or mean you can hold public office. An expunged conviction will also still be considered a prior offense for the purpose of sentencing for other crimes and will not mean the DMV will reinstate your driving privileges, if they were taken away. It is important to know what expungement can do for you because the process to petition for it can be complex and you may want to obtain the services of an attorney to help you. However, if you are seeking expungement primarily to increase your employability with non-governmental employers, it may be well worth the effort.
Do you have a criminal record and have questions about getting charges dismissed? Contact Visalia area criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team. Mr. Martens has worked exclusively as a criminal defense attorney and can ensure you take the right steps towards moving on from your charge. Mr. Martens will fight Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.