Having your criminal record expunged can restore your dignity and your confidence, especially when it comes to job hunting. No one should have to let a criminal record prevent him or her from finding a job or housing. Unfortunately, even one criminal conviction can cause you to lose your job or miss out on a job opportunity. A criminal conviction can also take away some of your rights. You may be wondering what rights an expungement can restore. This is a good question, because some, but not all, of your rights can be restored with an expungement. It is important to know what rights will be restored and which ones will not so you don't put yourself at risk for another conviction.
First, it is important to understand that even if you have a criminal conviction dismissed through the process of expungement, the conviction itself will still appear on your criminal record. The dismissal will appear as well, but you may still have to disclose the conviction on certain job applications. For example, when applying for a government position or government license, you must fully disclose the conviction you had dismissed. An expungement also won't restore your right to own, buy, or otherwise possess a firearm in and of itself. You must check the details of your sentencing for your conviction to find out whether or not you can have this right restored. You may be able to restore this right if you have a charge reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor as part of the expungement process. Having a conviction expunged also doesn't necessarily mean you will no longer have to register as a sex offender. You may be aware that sex offender registration is often for life in California, regardless of how the conviction appears on your record. This is a crucial thing to take note of. Failing to register as a sex offender when you've been ordered to can have serious ramifications. Because an expungement doesn't completely erase your conviction, you also cannot hold public office if you were barred from doing so. Your conviction can also still be used by a variety of organizations to take action against you. For example, you can lose a professional license or credentials even after having your conviction dismissed. The DMV can also used a dismissed conviction when considering your driving privileges, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can still use your conviction against you when your citizenship is being considered.
Some of the rights that your conviction took away from you won't be restored even when the conviction is dismissed. Nevertheless, many people decide to go through the expungement process for other reasons, such as peace of mind while they are job hunting. California employers, other than governmental, cannot inquire about an arrest that did not end in a conviction. After an expungement, your conviction is dismissed, so you don't need to report the conviction to the prospective employer, and they cannot use it against you if they find out about it.
If you are thinking about getting your record expunged to dismiss a conviction, you may want to first consult with a California criminal defense attorney with experience in expungements and record cleaning. It is often in your best interest to have an attorney help you with this process. Not all convictions can be dismissed, and not all defendants will be eligible for an expungement. Some may have to clean their record through other routes.
An attorney can advise you on what your options are for cleaning your record. He or she can also advise you on the rights the expungement will and will not restore so you can avoid any further legal trouble. The expungement process can be complicated because of the paperwork involved and the requirements you must meet. Having attorney help you may give you a better chance at being successful in the process.
If you have questions about the benefits of expungement, call experienced Visalia area criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can help you clean your criminal record so you can move on with your life. Attorney Martens has exclusively practiced criminal defense for over ten years and can fight for your rights in court. Contact our Visalia or Hanford offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.