If you have a felony conviction in the State of California, it can be difficult to move on with your life. It can affect your ability to get a job, find housing, and even prevent you from pursuing higher education. So you may be wondering if you qualify for a California Felony Expungement.
There is hope – California Law offers Felony Expungement. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about felony expungement in California. We will start with the basics and cover eligibility requirements, stepsinvolved in the process along with the benefits of felony expungement. We will also answer some frequently asked questions about the process and provide tips for removing your information from the internet post-expungement. So if you’re looking to move on from your past mistakes and want a fresh start, read on!
PS: If you want to consult with an experienced attorney to help do this for you, save yourself some reading and contact us! Our law firm love working on these cases.
In the United States, having a felony on your record can be challenging to move forward. It is the most common fear for anyone facing a criminal offense–being labeled as a “Felon”. Employment and housing opportunities can be limited, and your criminal record may follow you for the rest of your life. That’s why felony expungement in California is so important. It provides individuals who meet the eligibility criteria with an opportunity to clear their criminal record and start fresh.
By obtaining this kind of relief (often referred to as “post conviction relief”, you can increase job opportunities, improve housing prospects, and regain peace of mind knowing that your past mistakes do not define you. For those who are single, there are countless apps offering background check services with online dating services that could unknowingly render you a red flag in the dating world.
In this post, we will provide a step-by-step guide to help you understand the process of California felony expungement and how it can benefit you.
What is felony expungement?
In California, there is a legal process allowing individuals to clear their criminal records in order to make it easier for them to find employment, housing, and other opportunities. Essentially, the law allows you to convert a past criminal conviction into a dismissal so that you may prevent the collateral consequences that often come with having a criminal record. This law is CA Penal Code §1203.4 and its corresponding sections.
Not all felonies are eligible for expungement in California, however; eligibility depends on the type of offense and sentence received. The expungement process involves filing a petition with the court and attending a hearing.
Working with an experienced attorney can increase the likelihood of a successful expungement. In short, felony expungement can have significant benefits for those who are eligible, helping them move forward from past mistakes and achieve a better quality of life.
Eligibility for California felony expungement
Completing (1) a full sentence within probation and (2) paying all fines and restitution is crucial to be eligible for felony expungement in California. However, recent changes to the Penal Code section have allowed the courts the discretion to grant the petition despite an outstanding restitution balance.
Moreover, you cannot be facing any new criminal charges or serving another sentence. Although many types of felonies are eligible for expungement, some serious offenses such as sex crimes involving minors or violent crimes are not. The best way to determine your eligibility is by hiring an experienced attorney who specializes in expungements. They can guide you through the eligibility criteria and help you understand if you meet the requirements for a successful felony expungement.
Ineligibility for California felony expungement
Certain felonies, such as sex offenses and violent crimes, cannot be expunged in California. In addition to these types of offenses, other factors may make a felony conviction ineligible for expungement, such as probation violations or multiple convictions. However, just because an individual is not eligible for expungement does not mean that they have no other legal options. It may be possible to reduce the severity of that conviction through other post conviction petitions or motions. Early termination of probation, obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation, petitioning for a governor’s pardon, modifying your sex offender status, or converting a prison sentence are several alternative options.
Is a Misdemeanor Dismissal the Same for a Felony Dismissal?
Yes. Under Penal Code 17(b) [or pc 17b], a wobbler felony qualifies just like a misdemeanor.
Consulting with an experienced attorney with background in post conviction relief can help determine the best course of action for those who are not eligible for felony expungement in California.
Can I get my felony conviction expunged if I violated probation?
If you have been convicted of a felony and violated your probation, you may not be eligible for a California felony expungement. However, it’s essential to consult with a qualified attorney to determine your eligibility for expungement and navigate the process.
In such cases, the Court assigned to hear the petition will be forced to weight several factors before issuing a denial or a grant. For example, where the violations for major or minor terms of probation? Did you come to court to clear those violations right away or were you primarily absent for months at a time before the judge ever saw you or your attorney? Finally, were the violations consistently the same term or were there unrelated administrative portions that anyone with a volatile life would miss?
Among the most common questions our office receives is whether there is any chance of there have been multiple violations. The short answer is Yes.
Clearing your criminal record in California: Step-by-Step Guide
Navigating the California felony expungement process can be daunting, but breaking it down into manageable steps can make it less overwhelming.
The first step is to order and obtain copies of your criminal records so you can determine your eligibility for expungement. Being aware of the details of your convictions, including any fines or probationary periods, is crucial. Once you have determined that you are eligible, it’s important to seek legal counsel and obtain the necessary forms for filing. From there, it’s a matter of attending your hearing and waiting for the judge’s decision. By following this step-by-step guide, you can clear your criminal record of a felony conviction and enjoy the benefits that come with it.
Step 1: Order and obtain copies of your criminal records
To initiate the California felony expungement process, the first step is to order and obtain copies of your court record from either the Department of Justice or the courthouse your felony offense was in. This involves obtaining a copy of your arrest record, court docket, and probation documents from the relevant authorities. But in reality, it’s sufficient to simply visit the court clerk to get a copy of your minute order. Local tip: for those in the Superior Court of Los Angeles, many have been closed down or merged, so call before you drive there.
It’s crucial to review your records carefully for any inaccuracies or incompleteness before proceeding with the expungement process. Obtaining and reviewing these records can be a challenging task, and it’s recommended to seek assistance from an experienced attorney to ensure accuracy and completeness.
Step 2: Determine your Eligibility
Determining eligibility for expungement is a crucial step that requires careful assessment of your criminal history. In general, felony convictions can be expunged like misdemeanors if you have completed probation or served your sentence, paid all fines and restitution, and haven’t been convicted of any new offenses. However, certain felonies such as sex crimes (including statutory rape) and violent offenses are not eligible for expungement. It’s important to review your criminal record thoroughly to determine your eligibility for expungement and seek the guidance of an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the process successfully.
Step 3: Know the details of your convictions
At this point it may be obvious that when pursuing a California felony expungement, it’s essential to have a thorough understanding of your convictions. This involves gathering all the details of your charges, dates of conviction, and any other relevant information.
Were any charges dismissed in the interests of justice?
Did you finish your community service?
Have all the terms of your probation been satisfied?
Was the California state three strikes law involved?
Did you admit to any prior convictions?
Was your state license involved?
Step 4: Know your probation status
Understanding your probation status sounds simple. However, if you violated probation or failed to complete it, you may have hurdles. You would be surprised how many individuals believed they completed their domestic violence classes only to find out years later they were kicked out. County jail sentences also hover over some if work release was granted. And for some, a state prison sentence was converted to county jail based on wobbler and California penal code updates. These get tricky when parole is involved.
It’s at this point where in some counties, the probation officer has a say in recommending denial or grant. Juvenile records typically are not considered, but if they have strong similarity to your adult conviction, they may be alluded to in the police reports or district attorney that may oppose the petition.
Step 5: Seek legal counsel for the process
When it comes to seeking felony expungement in California, hiring a qualified attorney can make all the difference. Legal counsel can provide invaluable advice on how to present your case, identify potential roadblocks, and maximize your chances of success. Plus, an experienced attorney can help you understand any legal terms or procedures that may be confusing or overwhelming. Sometimes a simple consultation can give you the direction you need.
Step 6: Obtain and complete necessary forms for the process
California felony expungement is forms driven. The forms required may vary depending on the specific details of your case, such as the county where you were convicted. It’s essential to read and follow all instructions when completing these forms for a successful expungement process.
Step 7: File Your Petition
After completing all necessary steps and obtaining the required documentation, it is time to file your California felony expungement. This involves submitting a petition to the court that convicted you. The petition must include proof of rehabilitation, payment of fines and restitution, and documentation of completion of probation or sentence. The court will review the petition and may hold a hearing to determine whether or not to grant the expungement.
Step 8: Meet with your attorney to prepare for your hearing
Meeting with your attorney is a crucial step in the felony expungement process, especially when preparing for your hearing. Your attorney can provide you with valuable advice and guidance on how to present yourself and your case effectively. Be prepared to discuss any progress you have made since your conviction, such as completing education or job training programs.
Step 9: Attend Your Hearing
Attending the expungement hearing is the final step in the felony expungement process in California. This hearing is critical to your case and requires your full presence and attention. It’s essential to present yourself professionally and respectfully in front of the judge, as this could significantly impact the outcome of your petition. During the hearing, you may need to provide additional evidence or documentation to support your case. Be sure to bring all required documents with you and be prepared to answer any questions that may arise.
After the hearing – What happens next?
Once the expungement hearing is over, the judge will consider all of the evidence and make a decision on whether to grant or deny your petition. If your petition is granted, your felony conviction will be dismissed and you will be given a signed order. This means you can legally state that you were not convicted of a felony when applying for jobs or housing.
However, some government agencies and employers may still have access to your criminal record, so it’s essential to consult with an experienced attorney to help you navigate what level of privacy you may secure.
While on this topic, it should be noted that gun rights for those who were prohibited from owning firearms do not automatically become reinstated. This involves additional proceedings.
Felony convictions can have long-lasting consequences, affecting job opportunities, housing, and social relationships. Fortunately, California felony expungement offers a chance to clear your criminal record and move forward with your life. There are numerous benefits of obtaining an expungement, including the ability to legally state that there was no conviction on job applications and other legal documents. Additionally, expungement can help restore civil rights such as the right to vote, serve on a jury, run for public office, and help with deportation proceedings. Removing the burden of a past mistake can lead to improved personal relationships and reduce social stigma, providing a sense of closure and allowing for a fresh start.
Getting a Job after felony expungement
With a clean criminal record, you will now have much better luck passing background checks and impressing potential employers. When applying for jobs after an expungement, it’s important to be very mindful of what is asked on an application. It’s important to note that some industries may still require disclosure of a past conviction even after expungement, so consulting with a qualified attorney can help you navigate the job application process with confidence.
Dating Online After Petition Granted
One surprising area where California felony expungement can make a significant impact is in online dating. When meeting new people, disclosing a felony conviction can lead to judgment and discrimination. With an expunged record, individuals may feel more comfortable exploring romantic relationships online without fear of stigma or rejection. It is important to keep in mind that services online may appear as official background check services when in fact they are not. Seek our professional opinion if you come across your case information being sold to the public.
Getting Housing Aftwards
Expungement shows that you have taken steps towards rehabilitation and are committed to moving forward, which can make your application more appealing to landlords and property managers. Once granted, the conviction should not appear on any tenant screening reports.
Removing your information from the internet
As we move further into the digital age, it has become increasingly important to monitor and manage our online presence. Even after successfully expunging a felony from your record in California, there may still be damaging information about you on the internet that needs to be addressed. While expungement can make it more difficult to find certain information, it does not completely remove it from the internet.
It’s crucial to take steps to regularly monitor your online presence and remove any harmful content that could negatively impact your future opportunities.
In conclusion, the process for a California felony expungement can be complex and requires careful attention to detail. However, the benefits of having your record cleared are immeasurable.
A clean record can open up opportunities for employment, housing, and even dating prospects. If you are eligible and considering felony expungement, it is highly recommended that you seek legal counsel to guide you through the process. Additionally, it might be worth looking into removing any information about your conviction from the internet. To learn more about how to remove your information from the internet and take control of your online presence, read about our guide to background check removal.
Bart Kaspero is an experienced criminal defense and regulatory attorney who has focused on using technology and the law in bringing privacy to criminal records. His unique background has allowed him to help a broad spectrum of clients and cases involving cryptocurrency, import/export violations, cannabis/CBD licensing, consumer protection, and emerging market businesses.
100 Spectrum Center Drive
Irvine, CA 92618
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