Being convicted of a crime may seem like the end of the world. You may face discrimination when applying for jobs, housing, or volunteer opportunities. In the past, it was an arduous process for someone to look up another person's criminal record. Today, digitized records and online access to criminal records has made it easier than ever to access information about your criminal past. A criminal charge can haunt you for many years to come and any prospective employer can easily view it. While a criminal charge on your record can certainly hinder you in certain scenarios, there may be steps you can take to mitigate the negative effects of having a criminal record. While in most cases cleaning up your record doesn't mean the charge will completely disappear, it can allow you to legally state that you have not been convicted of a crime. There are a few different ways you can remove or dismiss convictions from your record. Expungement is one of the better-known ways to do so.
Expungement is a frequently used method to clean up criminal records, because many convictions are eligible for dismissals. Those not eligible for expungement may have other options to clean their record. Expungements are available only to those who were charged with an infraction, a misdemeanor, or a felony and were not sentenced to time in a state prison. Keep in mind, even if you are eligible for expungement, you can only petition for it but the judge does not have to grant it. It is not uncommon for a petition for expungement to be denied. If your petition for expungement has been denied, you may wish to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your options. You may be able to re-file. Small mistakes in filing the petition could be the reason why it was denied. While it is always best to consult with an attorney before you file your petition, an attorney may be able to assist you in submitting another petition. If you cannot re-file, you may have other options available to you.
Whether or not you can petition for an expungement will depend on your conviction and your sentencing. If you were given probation as a part of your sentencing, either for a misdemeanor or a felony, you must wait until your probation period has ended or until you have been released early from the probationary period. In addition to this requirement, you must have paid all your financial obligations associated with the conviction, such as fines and victim restitution, and you must not be serving a sentence or fulfilling a probationary period for another current charge. If you were charged with a misdemeanor or infraction and were not assigned probation as part of your sentencing, you must wait one year from the date of your conviction before petitioning for an expungement. Additionally, you must have complied with your sentencing, and must not be charged with or serving a sentence for another crime. If you were sentenced to a state prison, you are not eligible for a dismissal of your conviction.
If you have been convicted of a crime and want to mitigate the effects the conviction will have on your life, you may wish to go through with the expungement process. An expungement is a worthy investment for those with eligible convictions. It is important to note that these specifications are regarding expungements for California criminal convictions only. Each state may have different procedures and rules on expungements. California law protects prospective employees from discrimination for arrests that did not end in convictions. If a prospective employer asks about your arrests, you do not have to disclose any arrest that did not end in a conviction. So, if you complete the expungement process and have a conviction dismissed, you no longer have to disclose this conviction to prospective employers.
Not all criminal charges are eligible for dismissal, and the courts have discretion when it comes to granting or denying petitions. Also, it is important to keep in mind that although you may be able to have your conviction dismissed, you may still have to disclose to certain requesters. For example, if you are applying for a governmental position, you will still have to disclose your conviction and the dismissal of it. Expungements can also take some time and familiarity with the expungement process is essential for you to be successful. If you are seeking an expungement for a criminal conviction, it is a good idea to speak with an experienced California criminal defense attorney about your case. An experienced attorney will be able to assess your case and, based off of your individual needs, advise you on what options you have for cleaning up your record and what those options will do for you.
Have you been charged with a crime and have questions about expungement? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team. With ten years of criminal defense experience, attorney Christopher Martens will advise you on the legal process of expungement and help you clean up your criminal record so you can move on with your life. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.