Being convicted of a crime is something most people want to move on from, and fast. But doing so can prove difficult if you don't know where to start. Moving on from a criminal conviction happens in steps, some small and some large, so here are three effective ways to move on from your criminal conviction.
1. Finish All Requirements of Your Sentence
If you've been ordered to pay fines, take classes, or perform community service, do so as soon as you can. Likewise, if you are on probation and have requirements to meet, try to complete them quickly. The sooner you fulfill your obligations to the court, the sooner you can mentally move on from your experience. As a bonus, completing the requirements of your sentence and/or probation early could potentially help you ask the court to end your probation early. And if your probation is terminated early, you can move on to the next step.
2. Clean Your Record
If you are eligible, cleaning your record can be the single most effective way of moving on from a criminal conviction. There are a few different avenues for cleaning your record in California, each with its own eligibility requirements. The most common is expungement. Expungement is the legal process through which convictions are dismissed from your record. Please note, the arrest and charge may remain, but your record will show that the conviction was dismissed in the interests of justice.
Once dismissed, you can legally say you were not convicted of the time. There are some exceptions to this liberty, however. For example, you may still have to disclose dismissed convictions when applying for governmental jobs or state-issued licenses. But for the most part, when applying to private companies, for apartments, or loans, you won't have to go through the embarrassing process of disclosing your conviction. Certain records, such as juvenile records, may be completely sealed, which means your record is entirely closed and will be destroyed eventually.
While a dismissal can significantly improve your chances of getting a job or apartment, not everyone is eligible. Also, the process can be complicated as there are numerous restrictions and requirements you must meet before the court will consider your request. Furthermore, the court has a wide berth of discretion when granting certain expungements, meaning there is no guarantee your request will be granted. Consequently, you should always work with an attorney on this step.
3. Adopt a New Outlook
Lastly, shift your mentality to avoid breaking the law (or being accused of breaking the law) again. Recidivism is one reason why your prior criminal history can have a strong bearing on the penalties you face for a conviction. For example, many DUI offenders commit repeat offenses (sometimes several) down the road. Consequently, the court-imposed penalties for DUIs dramatically increase with each repeat offense. The Three Strikes Law is another example of the criminal justice system's approach to curtailing recidivism.
You may wonder why people reoffend so frequently given the California courts' harsh treatment of repeat offenders. It's all about mentality. You don't have to turn your whole life around. No one has the right to tell you to do that, although the courts will certainly try when handing down punishments for a crime. But you can take steps to inform yourself of criminal law and your rights. Just being aware of your rights and how the criminal prosecution process works can go a long way toward helping you avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This step is more about exercising your rights and knowing how to sidestep legal trouble than just bettering yourself. The good news is once you've been convicted of a crime, you become familiar with that entire process. The bad news is this isn't always enough to keep people from breaking the law again. Thus, California prosecutors never go easy on repeat offenders.
An Attorney Can Help You Move On
Again, some of the most effective ways of moving on after a criminal conviction involve fulfilling your requirements for your sentence and/or probation and petitioning the court to dismiss your conviction. A skilled California criminal defense attorney with experience cleaning records can help you do both.
Have you been convicted of a crime and need help cleaning your record? Visalia area DUI defense attorney Christopher Martens can help you get the outcome you deserve. 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.