Cleaning your criminal record can change your life. It can prevent certain people and organizations from accessing information about your criminal past. This can reduce or eliminate any discrimination you might face when applying for jobs, for housing, public assistance, or loans. Unfortunately, a dismissal of a conviction won't erase your record nor does it destroy it. Because of this, certain employers and agencies can still see a conviction even after it has been dismissed. To better understand how this can happen, let's take a brief look at exactly how the process of expungement works.
Expungement is the process of dismissing a criminal conviction from your record. To expunge your record, you need to petition the court for a dismissal. If granted, the court will open up your record, change the plea or verdict entered to non-guilty, and then close the case again. Many different convictions can be dismissed, but each one needs to be done separately. Once dismissed, the criminal charge will still appear but your record will note that the case was dismissed in the interests of justice. This means the case was dismissed because the court found it was the right thing to do. The arrest associated with the charge will still remain on your record as well.
Many California employers are prohibited from asking you about an arrest that did not end in a conviction. After the process of expungement, you can truthfully answer “no” when asked if you've been convicted of a crime. As well, these employers cannot hold the charge against you if it is discovered. For many people, getting a conviction dismissed greatly increases their chances of employment because it limits what employers and potential employers can view an individual's criminal record. Certain employers, however, can still access an applicant's criminal record and ask about arrests that did not end in a conviction. This means even if you have a conviction dismissed, the employer can still ask for information about the arrest and even use the information as a bar to employment if it is for legitimate purposes. Better understanding this specific caveat of the expungement process can help you understand how your criminal past can be held against you in terms of employment and help you make more informed choices about where to apply for a job.
Many California employers are subject to Labor Code 432.7, which bars an employer from asking about arrests that did not end in a conviction. Government agencies and organizations, however, can still request this information if it is relevant to the position. For example, your arrest history may be requested when applying for law enforcement positions. You must also disclose this information when applying for a government-issued license, certificate, permit, or security clearance. And if you are applying for a position with an organization or company that requires any sort of government licensure or clearance, you must disclose any information requested about arrests that did not end in a conviction. Such organizations often include those who serve vulnerable populations such as children, minorities, and the elderly.
Not everyone will get the benefit they want or need from getting a conviction dismissed, but many find it greatly increases their confidence when applying for jobs, housing, or public assistance. A dismissal will also increase your chances that an employer won't be able to ask about an arrest that did not end in a conviction and hold it against you. Certain employers such as government agencies and those that require government licensure or clearance can still ask about a dismissed conviction, but this information may not necessarily bar you from employment. And if you are applying for a government-issued license, certificate, permit, or clearance, a dismissed conviction must still be disclosed on an application. In general, however, the benefits of having a conviction dismissed far outweigh the costs. A dismissal may not conceal your criminal past from every employer, but it can demonstrate that you were worthy of relief in the court's eyes. This can say a lot about your character and trustworthiness, traits highly valued among many employers.
As you can see, though a dismissal will help reduce the chances of an employer discriminating against you for an arrest that did not end in a conviction, there are many jobs you may apply to that will require you disclose this kind of information. Speak with an experienced California criminal defense attorney if you have questions about what an expungement can do for you. An attorney can review with you the kinds of ways you can clean your record, the eligibility requirements for these, and the benefits you may enjoy from them.
Do you have questions about expungement? California attorney Christopher Martens knows California criminal defense and will work hard to clean your record so you can move on with your life. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, Mr. Martens has handled thousands of cases and has taken over 50 to trial. Attorney Christopher Martens has the skills and knowledge needed to defend your rights. Serving the Visalia and Fresno areas, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can provide expert criminal defense counsel. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.