In Los Angeles, state law allows some criminal convictions to be “expunged” or essentially removed from your record. Getting your conviction expunged can help you apply for jobs, earn certain types of licenses, and rebuild a life that does not carry the stigma of your past conviction. However, not all crimes can be expunged and judges will often wrongly deny a request to expunge even if it is legitimate. You need to talk to a Los Angeles expungement lawyer.
The Simmrin Law Group can help you. We can tell you up-front whether your conviction is eligible for expungement under the law, and we can prepare all documents and argue your case. We are also able to challenge rulings where the judge wrongfully denied an expungement. Let us give you a free consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
What is expungement?
An expungement (sometimes called an “expunction”) is a formal court order that dismisses your conviction. It can only be done after the sentence is served, so it does not help avoid penalties for the offense. However, by dismissing the conviction after the fact, the expungement effectively deletes it from your public record. This allows you to avoid disclosing your conviction in many situations, and restores some rights you wouldn’t have otherwise.
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How do I know if I’m eligible for expungement in Los Angeles?
The eligibility rules are fairly simple. You are eligible IF:
- You didn’t serve any state prison time for your offense
- You have completed all penalties and conditions of your sentence (this includes probation, although we can request to end probation early as part of the process)
- You are not currently charged or serving a sentence for any other criminal offenses
- You didn’t commit any probation violations (although you may still qualify even if you did)
(If you aren’t eligible because you served state prison time or because your offense was a sex crime, you may still be eligible for a certificate of rehabilitation.)
Having a probation violation doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get an expungement. It just means we will have to take the extra step of justifying why an expungement would benefit your family and yourself. The court will consider this and several other factors in deciding whether to grant the expungement anyway.
Can I get an expungement even if my conviction was a felony?
Yes, depending on what the felony was.
In general, the rule is that a crime can potentially be expunged as long as you didn’t serve time in state prison (county jail is okay). In the past, this prevented felons from getting an expungement because most felonies carried prison sentences. Today, however, a felony is still eligible for expungement if:
- It’s considered a “wobbler” (a crime that can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor), or
- It is a nonviolent felony that was adjusted under California’s “realignment” policy so that time was served in county jail instead of state prison
That does not mean that judges always understand or follow these rules. It is possible to be denied your expungement—wrongly—even if the above apply to you. If this has happened, you need to talk to a lawyer.
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What effects does an expungement have?
An expungement comes with several benefits, and a few limits. The benefits of expunging your conviction include:
- You do not have to disclose your conviction when applying for most jobs, and employers cannot use it as a factor in deciding not to hire you
- You are allowed to apply for public-sector jobs without disclosing your conviction or expungement
- You are allowed to apply public licenses
- You can state under oath that you were not convicted of that crime (this is true, as the charge was not officially dismissed by the courts, which is not a conviction)
Even an expungement doesn’t get rid of all of the effects of a past conviction, however. Some of the limits include:
- You still have to disclose your past conviction if running for public office
- You still have to disclose your past conviction if applying for a job or contract with the State Lottery Commission
- You still have to disclose your past conviction if applying for a professional license
- If you are a convicted felon, the expungement does not restore your right to own or carry firearms
- If you commit another crime, the court can still consider your expunged offense as a “prior” in order to enhance your new sentence
Some background checks will still turn up a conviction even if it was expunged. However, in most cases it is illegal for an employer to use this information in a hiring decision. That means the largest benefit by far is having an easier time finding employment.
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What steps do I have to take to get my expungement?
First you have to complete all conditions of your sentence. There are three main steps:
- If you are still on probation, file a motion requesting early termination of probation
- If you were convicted of a felony that is a “wobbler,” request that it be reduced to a misdemeanor
- File a form with the court known as a CR-180, or “petition for dismissal.”
In some cases you may have to go to a hearing to explain any past probation violations and justify your request. Otherwise, the court should order the expungement, and an order is sent out to databases of criminal records so that most background checks will no longer show the conviction at all.
Is there any downside to an expungement?
No. There are limits to what an expungement can do for you, as explained above. But if you are eligible to apply, it can only help and never hurt—there is no risk or penalty for requesting it. The worst the court can do is say no. In most cases, if you are eligible a lawyer can get you approved the first time or fix an expungement request that was already denied.
Talk to a Los Angeles Expungement Lawyer for Free
Don’t let a past mistake continue to haunt your life—or your career. Let the attorneys of the Simmrin Law Group give you a FREE consultation and get you started on your expungement. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.