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What Is An Expungement?

Expungement is another word for dismissal and is the first step toward a pardon for anyone who is convicted of a felony. It neither seals nor erases all of a criminal record as if it never happened, but it does clean it up to show that the defendant has met all of their responsibilities under the terms of their probation. Not every kind of case can be expunged and not every state offers remedies to clean up your record. The 30 states who have remedies may have different criteria and requirements from California and from each other.

In some cases, and having met all criteria, expungement releases a defendant from all penalties and disabilities that resulted from an offense. This does not mean that if you are granted expungement you cannot have records sealed in some cases. It means that an expungement alone may not accomplish that but additional steps may.

Who is eligible for an expungement?

The following individuals are eligible for an expungement:

  • Your case was reduced to a criminal infraction.
  • You have not served in prison.
  • You are an adult who was granted probation, completed all of the terms of it and are no longer on probation.
  • You were denied probation. However, you have to wait a year after your conviction and must not be serving a sentence or on probation for any other cases.

Who is not eligible for expungement?

Anyone whose case already has been dismissed cannot and does not need also to be expunged. Persons who have served in prison are not eligible. They can, however, apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, which is a first step toward a pardon for those who have served in prison. Anyone on probation for any case, anywhere, is not eligible, period.

What an Expungement Will Not Do

If your right to bear firearms was taken away, then an expungement may not reinstate it. There are other ways to apply for reinstatement of this right in cases without offenses of violence.

It will not prevent the conviction from being used against you in these circumstances:

  • increase punishment on a later conviction;
  • impeach you on a later conviction;
  • be used by INS for exclusion and removal purposes.

It will not remove the conviction from your “RAP” sheet or the requirement to register as a sex offender per Penal Code 290. However, it is the next step to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation for eligible defendants.

The conviction still must be included on applications for government issued licenses. It can be considered and used to deny or revoke government licenses and permits such as teaching credentials, real estate licenses and security guard certificates. An expungement could, on the other hand, be more favorably considered by the licensing agency than a conviction.

Why get an expungement?

Except for a few certain careers, having a dismissal on your record instead of a conviction may weigh in your favor when seeking employment. It is the next step in applying for several different kinds of certificates that can relieve you of certain burdens. Regardless of what it will not do, it certainly demonstrates persistence and dedication as you rebuild your life.

Our law firm can assist in seeking an expungement and sorting details to find which apply to your individual case. We can answer questions you will have and be supportive when you feel like giving up. The best next step you can take toward getting an expungement is to ask for help applying.

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