Having a criminal record can affect you negatively and follow you around your whole life. Job prospects, public assistance, financial aid and housing opportunities all may be limited. The stigma alone of having a criminal record can limit opportunities of all kinds. Fortunately, there are ways you can clean up your criminal record, which may make it easier to get a job, financial assistance and benefits or housing. Cleaning up your record is well worth the effort however not all charges can be dismissed and not every request for dismissal will be granted. If you want to clean up your record, you might benefit from the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can advise you on whether it is likely you can have any charges dismissed and tell you how to do so. There are a few options if you are seeking to clean up of their criminal record and your eligibility for these options will depend on the circumstances of your case. For certain misdemeanor and felony convictions, you may be eligible to have your conviction dismissed or have your verdict set aside, also called expungement. If you were convicted of a felony and were given prison time, you will not be eligible for expungement. You can, however, seek a certificate of rehabilitation, which is a court authored document attesting to your rehabilitation from your crime. This can be especially helpful in applying for jobs or housing opportunities. Along with your application for a certificate of rehabilitation, you will automatically be considered for a pardon, however these are relatively rare. Seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney if you want to apply for a certificate of rehabilitation. There is an extensive application process and it may require character witnesses and other evidence to support your request. To have your charges dismissed through the expungement process, you will need to file a petition with the court and pay a nominal fee. Which petition you will file will depend on your conviction. Those still on probation for a misdemeanor will have to file a petition to have their probation period terminated as well as a petition to have the conviction dismissed. If you are no longer, or never were, on probation for your misdemeanor, you can simply file a petition to have it dismissed. If your conviction was a felony, but you were not given prison time, you will have an extra step. In this case, you will have to file to have your probation terminated early, if applicable, file a petition to have your felony reduced and file a petition to have it dismissed. Keep in mind that these procedures are California-specific. If you have charges from other states but are now a California resident, check with an attorney or contact the public defender's office in the county you were convicted in for further assistance. Expunging your record essentially means your case was opened, the plea or verdict was removed or set aside and that you are no longer considered convicted of that crime. In California, this can be very important because employers are not allowed to ask about any arrests that did not end in a conviction. Similarly, if they do see an arrest that did not end in a conviction on your criminal record, they cannot use that arrest as a reason to not hire you. Having a conviction dismissed can greatly improve your chances at obtaining employment, public assistance and/or housing. Many convictions qualify and if you have fulfilled all the requirements of your sentencing, it could be relatively easy to apply for a dismissal. However, keep in mind that the courts are not required to dismiss your conviction and only will do so if it is in the interest of justice.
Are you in the Tulare, Fresno or Kings County area and have questions about cleaning up your record ? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team. Mr. Martens has 10 years of experiences as a defense attorney and has never been a district attorney. Mr. Martens has handled thousands of criminal cases and has taken over 50+ cases to trial. He will go the distance to ensure your criminal past is as clean as it can be. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.