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Expungements Explained

PC 1203.4 & 1203.4a

An expunged criminal record means that a defendant's prior criminal conviction is cleared from public record as a conviction. Most misdemeanors, felonies, and infractions may be expunged. Some convictions are not expungeable. Obtaining an expungement can be great for persons searching for better employment and professional licenses i.e. doctors, nurses, lawyers, therapists, teachers, psychologist, etc.

The expungement process

To expunge a criminal record the defendant will need to file and serve expungement paperwork, including declarations, with the court where the conviction was entered.

Both the district attorney and the probation department must be served with a copy of the defendant's request for an expungement before the court date. The defendant will receive his or her court date upon the filing of the expungement paperwork.

The following are the requirements for an expungement when the defendant was granted probation:

  • The defendant is no longer on probation, and
  • The defendant is not currently on probation for any offense, and
  • The defendant is not currently charged with committing any new offense.

The following are requirements for an expungement when the defendant was not granted probation:

  • There has been at least a year from the date of conviction, and
  • The defendant fully complied with his or her sentence, and
  • The defendant is not now serving a sentence for any new offense, and
  • The defendant is not currently charged with committing a new offense.

Some convictions are not eligible for expungement. These convictions include the following sex crimes: PC 286(c) Sodomy of a Minor, PC 288.5 Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Minor, PC 288a(c) Oral Copulation with a Minor, PC 289(j) Sexual Penetration of a Minor, PC 288 Lewd Acts Crimes, PC 311 Child Pornography Crimes, & PC 261.5(d) Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with a Minor.

Expungements are great for clearing criminal records so that a defendant has a much better chance at obtaining employment or a professional license. However, an expunged record is not a complete clearing of the defendant's criminal history. For example, an expunged criminal record may still be used against the defendant in the following situations:

  • By the federal government in immigration cases. Criminal convictions, even if expunged, may still be used by the federal government against immigrants in deportation proceedings.
  • By the federal government in military enrollment decisions. The federal government may use a criminal conviction, even if the conviction is expunged, in deciding whether or not to accept an applicant for military service.
  • In subsequent criminal cases. Criminal convictions that are expunged may still be used to prove a prior conviction in a subsequent criminal case.
  • By professional licensing agencies. Criminal convictions, even if expunged, must still be disclosed, if directly questioned, by an applicant for professional license or public office, including the California State Lottery Commission.

How much does expungement cost?

Every case is different so the cost is different in every expungement case. There is usually no set fee for an expungement case before the attorney has a chance to review a case; however, once the attorney sets the fee it is almost always a fixed fee for the entire project. The cost for expungement depends on the number of crimes that need to be cleared, whether any of those crimes need early termination of probation, whether any of those crimes are for convictions of felony charges, how close the courthouse is to the attorney's office, whether the defendant violated probation during the probationary period, and the length of declarations involved in the court paperwork.

Do I tell my employer of expunged records?

The answer is that you do not have to tell private employers that you had a previous conviction if the conviction has been expunged; however, if you are applying for a professional license with the state of California, or if you are asked about your criminal history in a court of law you must provide truthful answers. You must also be truthful on employment applications if an employer inquires about prior probation, parole, or arrests, as expungements deal with convictions.  

Am I eligible for an expungement?

As stated above, almost all crimes are eligible for an expungement, even most felony crimes, so long as the defendant is not on probation and he or she is not facing new criminal charges. For cases that are not eligible for expungement a Certificate of Rehabilitation or a Pardon may be available for the defendant.

Does an expungement seal my record?

The answer is no, an expungement does not seal a criminal record. The record will still be visible to anyone searching local databases for your criminal history; however, the display of the criminal record will show that the criminal case was dismissed. To seal a criminal arrest, please see Seal & Destroy a criminal arrest.

To learn more about expungements, including eligibility requirements, timing requirements, the laws and process, contact criminal our expungement attorneys today for a free consultation. Our attorneys have successfully handled hundreds of expungement cases and we are available twenty-four hours a day to answer all of your questions. Call today!


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Expungements in California PC 1203.4 & 1203.4a Motions / Clearing Criminal Records

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