Los Angeles Expungement Attorney
If you have a criminal record, you likely understand how criminal convictions can negatively affect your life. From limiting employment opportunities to stripping voting rights, a criminal record can be detrimental to your future. There are, however, many convictions that you can have expunged. Consider the following information about expungement in Los Angeles, including the definition and a loose-level overview of the legal process.
What is expungement in Los Angeles, California?
It is important to note that not all convictions can be expunged.
Having your record expunged starts by petitioning the courts to dismiss the convictions and charges you have on your record. If you are granted your expungement request, all penalties of your charges and convictions will be dismissed as well. Please note that the terms convictions and charges were both used in this context. Many people are unaware of the difference between charges and convictions. Here is a quick overview.
When a person is charged with a crime, they are not yet guilty of it. There is a legal process that must be followed in order for the charge to be turned into a conviction, and it is through this process that the offender must be proven guilty. There are many individuals who are charged with criminal offenses and are never proven guilty, meaning they don’t receive a conviction. Still, though, the charges they receive will remain on their record for life unless they get them expunged. In some instances, charges are just as detrimental as convictions, such as when an employer is doing a background check; this is why it is so important to have your charges expunged even if you have never been convicted of a single offense.
What does it mean to have your records expunged in Los Angeles?
The courts refer to it as expungement, but in all actuality, it is more like a dismissal. When you are granted expungement under Penal Code 1203.4, the following will take place:
- The conviction record will be updated
- Your “guilty” plea will be withdrawn
- A “not guilty” plea will be entered
- Probation records will reflect that the charge has been terminated
- Case records will reflect the dismissal.
Following an expungement in California – is the conviction really gone?
Yes and no. Depending on the methods used to investigate whether a person has a criminal record, such as different software used by potential employers, the conviction may or may not be viewable. If it is viewable, though, the person conducting the research will show that the conviction was dismissed and is no longer being held against you by the court.
What are the benefits of getting a California criminal record expunged?
Having your records expunged will make it easier for you to move forward with your life without unwanted attention drawn to events that you have moved past. You won’t have to worry about indicating these details on employment applications, which in itself is already a tedious process. Also, a benefit of having your record expunged is that it may restore some of your civil rights, such as the right to bear arms and the right to vote.
What convictions are not eligible for expungement under California Law?
- If you were convicted of certain Vehicle Code violations.
- If you were convicted of certain sex crimes.
- If you were sentenced to a state prison term, even if that sentence was suspended (former state prisoners should instead seek to vacate their conviction or seek a certificate of rehabilitation or pardon).
How to get your record expunged in California
Getting your record expunged starts with contacting the appropriate entity. If you have regular convictions, contact your local Public Defender’s Office. If your charges or convictions were military-related, then you will need to contact the Judge Advocate General’s Office for the branch you were serving in. In the event that you have federal charges or convictions, contact the Federal Defender’s Office.
Once you have contacted the appropriate entity, you are going to be asked to provide a copy of your charges and convictions. You can get a copy of this information through a variety of sources, including the California State Department of Justice, Criminal Record Review Unit, your court papers you received when you were charged/convicted, or through a probation/parole officer. You can also contact the law firm that handled your case and ask to speak with your expungement attorney about obtaining a copy of your record.
When you send in a petition to the court to have your charges/convictions dismissed, you must send in a petition for each charge. For example, if you have eight different charges and convictions you want to have expunged, you will need to petition the court eight separate times to have them dismissed. You may, however, be able to have all the petitions reviewed at the same time.
If your petition to have your record expunged is granted, you will receive proper documentation stating the charges/convictions that are no longer on your record.
Contact our Los Angeles Expungement Attorney, Brian Hurwitz to find out your options for having your records expunged in Los Angeles.