A conviction for a sex crime can negatively affect you for a lifetime. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you can have a sex crime conviction removed from your record in California. As a rule, felony sex crimes cannot be expunged. Even with a misdemeanor sex crime, the chances of getting it removed from your record is slim.
However, there have been cases where a misdemeanor charge, like lewd or lascivious behavior, or sexual misconduct, has been expunged. The ability to get your records cleared depends on the circumstances surrounding the case, as well as the talents of your criminal attorney.
Can Your Name Be Removed From the Sex Crimes Register?
A felony sex crime conviction stays with you for life. The majority of sex crimes are categorized as crimes of moral turpitude. Therefore, they are more difficult to expunge from criminal records. This means your name could permanently remain on the sex offender list.
However, for misdemeanor offenses it is possible that your name will eventually be removed from the registration records. A criminal defense lawyer in California can examine your case and tell you if removal is an option with your type of sex offense conviction.
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How Long Will a Sex Crime Conviction Remain on Your Record?
That would depend on how severe the sex crime was. A felony conviction means you will stay on the sex crimes register forever. However, a misdemeanor sex crime could be cleared after 10 to 15 years, depending on the state.
Most states distinguish sex offenders based on the seriousness of their offenses. For instance, in some states, tier 1 offenders remain on the list for a decade, tier 2 for 20 years, and tier 3 felons are on the list for life.
Which Criminal Records Can be Expunged?
Expunging is the process of getting criminal convictions deleted from records. Expunged records are either dismissed by the court by putting aside a guilty verdict or sealing the record. Depending on the state, a dismissed conviction can still be found on personal records.
Sex Crime Convictions That Can Be Expunged in California
According to California PC 1203.4, you could apply for your sex crime conviction to be expunged if you:
- Never served a state prison term
- Have satisfied all the conditions of your sentencing, including completing probation and paying all fines
- Have finished parole or probation
- Have not committed any crimes or are not presently facing criminal charges after being convicted of the crime you are requesting be expunged
It should be emphasized that while you may be eligible to request that your sex crime be expunged if you meet the strict requirements, the actual process of having a conviction record deleted is very complicated.
Sex Crime Convictions That Cannot Be Expunged in California
Sex crime convictions involving a child or a minor cannot be expunged in the state of California. These include convictions for:
- Child pornography (PC 311)
- Continuous sexual abuse of a child (PC 288.5)
- Enticing or luring a child
- Forcible sexual penetration with a minor under the age of 14 (PC 289(j))
- Lewd and lascivious acts with a minor (PC 288)
- Oral copulation with a minor (PC 288a(c))
- Showing a minor obscene literature
- Sodomy with a minor (PC 286(c))
- Unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor under 16 by an individual over 21 (PC 261.5(d))
Types of Sex Offense Records That Can Be Expunged in California
Like most states, California also allows these types of sex offense records to be expunged:
- County jail time records after a probation period successfully finished
- Non-violent felonies
- Select misdemeanor convictions
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What Are the Benefits of Having These Records Expunged?
There are a lot of reasons why you should consider trying to get your conviction expunged. After all, expunging your records can help you regain most of the privileges you lost due to your past conviction.
Probably the most important benefit of this action is that you won’t have to divulge the conviction to prospective employers. California Labor Code 432.7 already assures you that employers won’t ask about an arrest that didn’t end in a conviction. Coupled with having your record expunged, your chances of gaining meaningful employment will drastically improve.
Getting your records expunged can also help you acquire a state professional license. It can also prevent you from being deported or suffer other consequences to your immigration status. Lastly, expungement can also preclude your previous conviction from being used to question your credibility in the event you get called as a witness in court.
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Limits of Expungement
Of course, there are certain limitations to the benefits an expungement brings. For instance, it won’t be able to overturn the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license or restore your gun rights if you are in a California firearms prohibiting category.
Expunged convictions can also be counted as prior convictions to strengthen sentencing. They can also be counted and as “strikes” in the state’s three-strikes law.
It should also be clarified that even if you get your sex crime conviction expunged, it does not release you from your obligation to register as a sex offender. However, it could assist you in securing a Certificate of Rehabilitation, which is a document that can release you from the stipulation that you have to be registered as a sex offender.
How Long Does the Expungement Process Take?
When getting your records expunged in California, it will typically take between 90 to 120 days to complete the expungement. However, there are factors that can increase the length of the process. Some of the factors that affect the length of time it takes to process an expungement include:
- Whether your conviction was for a misdemeanor or a felony
- The complexity of your case
- The amount of time that has passed since your conviction
- Whether your case is in the computer system of the courthouse where the expungement motion is filed
- Whether the court wants a Probation Report prepared before the hearing
- How busy the court is where you need to file
While it likely won’t take too long to get your record expunged, these are very low priority cases for the courts. If the court is backlogged with more pressing cases that need to be heard, you could experience some delays.
Do the Records Still Exist After an Expungement?
Having your records expunged does not result in the destruction of the records in any way. Instead, an expungement updates the disposition of your case to show that the conviction was expunged.
The court, along with the California Department of Justice, and the FBI, will all update their files. The new record will show that a plea of “not guilty” has been recorded and that the case has been dismissed and set aside by the court. The records remain intact, and your original conviction is still viewable.
Will a Conviction Hurt Your Job Prospects?
There are numerous cases of people not being able to secure a good-paying job because of having a conviction on their records. Fortunately, California legislation ensures that employers cannot consider or ask about an applicant’s criminal records.
The state’s Second Chance Law also enables those convicted of petty crimes and low-level felonies to have their records sealed or expunged. However, many sex crime convictions cannot be cleared or removed in California, as mentioned above.
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Having your criminal record expunged can help give you a fresh start in life. By having your records expunged or deleted and getting a Governor’s pardon or Certificate of Rehabilitation, you have a better chance of securing a good job and enjoying the benefits you lost after being convicted.
It will also give you an added sense of security and peace of mind. However, not all convictions are eligible for this. You will need the services of a reliable and experienced criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles to help you figure out if you are eligible to have your records cleared.