Record cleaning is a growing service industry. The number of Americans with criminal records is rising. Some studies claim up to 1/3 of all working-age adults has a criminal record. Given this figure, it seems unfair for an employer to make a hiring decision based off of a criminal record. But the vast majority of employers use criminal background checks to screen employees and applicants and, as a result, qualified candidates aren't given the chance they deserve because of a past mistake.
If you are part of the growing number of adults with a criminal record, you're not alone. Luckily, due to the rising number of adults with criminal records, record cleaning services have become more common, offering promises of a clean record and a better future. While it's true cleaning your record can help you clear your name, it's important to understand your rights and the specific benefits that apply to you before you pay one of these companies for their services.
First, you should know that not all convictions are eligible for dismissal. To make sure you don't waste your time, confirm that you are eligible to clean your record first.
You can get many infractions and misdemeanors dismissed if you meet all the requirements. If your conviction is a felony, however, you face greater barriers. Typically, your felony must be a wobbler to be dismissed. If your felony was a straight felony, meaning it couldn't have been charged as a misdemeanor, you might find it hard to dismiss it from your record.
If you were sentenced to state prison or put under the authority of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for your felony, you are not eligible to have your conviction dismissed. Otherwise, you can petition to get your felony reduced to a misdemeanor then ask that the misdemeanor is dismissed. This is a complicated process but worth it if your felony is holding you back.
Similarly, you are not eligible for a dismissal if you are currently charged with another crime, serving another sentence, are in violation of your probation, or if your conviction occurred in the last 12 months.
Second, you should know how to clean your record. Don't assume online record cleaning firms can get you the best results. As stated above, felonies typically have to be reduced to misdemeanors to be dismissed. To dismiss a misdemeanor, you will need to petition the court in the county that convicted you.
Petitioning the court isn't as simple as filling out some paperwork. You need to demonstrate that you have been rehabilitated and that it would be in the interests of justice for the court to dismiss your conviction. How you can do this will depend on your conviction, the facts and circumstances surrounding the offense, and what you have done since your conviction. This is where working with a skilled criminal defense attorney really pays off. You need to present a compelling argument, and record-cleaning mills that simply help you fill out the required paperwork might not be of help here.
Third, know what your rights are as a person with a criminal record. If you have an arrest that did not end in a conviction, the record of that arrest is off limits to most employers. An employer cannot ask about an arrest that did not end in a conviction nor can they go looking for that information. And, if they do happen to find that information and use that in their decision-making, you could have a civil case. So, while you can often clean arrest records, know that you already have inherent protections under California law. For convictions, however, getting a dismissal is the only way to hide that information from employers.
If you want to clean your record, don't go into the process uninformed. You could end up wasting your time and money and still not get the results you want or need. It's best to figure out what you want to accomplish, whether you are eligible to do that, and how to make it happen. If you need personal guidance—and many people do—consult with an attorney. An experienced California criminal defense attorney can help you identify your objectives and help you through the process of cleaning your record step by step.
If you are in the Tulare, Fresno or Kings County area and want to clean your record, call experienced criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can help you clean your record and clear your name. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, attorney Martens is ready to defend your rights. Contact our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.