Expungement occurs in California when a person’s criminal proceeding is reopened and reversed to a dismissal. It’s a beneficial procedure as it allows individuals to state truthfully in the future that they have never been convicted of a crime. Certain limitations apply, however, so not everyone who seeks to have a record clearance is eligible. Here’s what determines who’s eligible for record expungement.
Expungement vs. Record Sealing
The terms “expungement” and “sealing” are often understood to mean the same thing, but in reality, they are quite different. Sealing occurs when criminal proceedings are hidden from public view while remaining on the record. Expungement is a much more complete erasure, with the criminal record being reversed and then destroyed. Pardons and clemency are also methods of reducing or forgiving criminal charges, but neither clears a criminal record thoroughly as expungement does.
Who’s Eligible for Record Clearance?
In order to be eligible for the expungement process, individuals must meet several criteria. For one, they must have been convicted in state court rather than federal court. They also can’t have gone to state prison, been charged with additional crimes, and they must have completed any probation, community service, and other requirements. Once it has been determined that an individual has met all the requirements as outlined in Penal Code 1203.4, the expungement process can begin.
The Expungement Process
Individuals can try to navigate the expungement process on their own, but having a qualified, knowledgeable attorney on hand is critical to ensure that everything is done properly and completed successfully. The first step to record clearance is to fill out court-provided expungement paperwork, which will ask for some personal information and details about the criminal case. Filing fees may be required. Paperwork will then be sent to the prosecutor’s office for eligibility verification. Once cleared, individuals must then attend any and all expungement hearings until the process is complete.
The attorneys at The Law Office of Jonathan D. McDougall specialize in representing individuals facing charges in the criminal justice system, from drug and sex offenses to DUIs and white-collar crime. Please contact our office today to schedule a consultation.