In California, an expungement allows a person convicted of a crime to petition the court to re-open their case, set aside their plea, and dismisses the case. In order to qualify for an expungement, a person needs to have successfully completed their term of probation, paid all fines and fees to the court, paid outstanding restitution to any victim and not currently be charged with a crime.
However, an expungement does not remove all of the consequences of a criminal conviction. An expungement does not restore gun rights that might have been terminated due to a criminal conviction nor remove someone who has been placed on the sex offender database.
You can petition for an expungement any time after completion of your probation. The court, typically, wants to see successful completion of probation (no violations or new arrests), and if there are, the petitioner should expect to provide the court with a declaration explaining the violation and any other mitigating factors.
If an expungement is granted by the court, the petitioner may have their finding of guilt set aside and may state that they have not been convicted of that crime. They will, however, have to answer “yes” if asked whether or not they have ever been arrested, but their record may reflect a dismissal after conviction.
Obtaining an expungement can help you remove the negative impact a conviction has on your record when you apply for jobs, schooling, housing, insurance, loans and for immigration purposes.
For the most part, expungements can be submitted to the court (with a copy sent to the prosecuting agency) by mail and a response will come some 4-8 weeks after submission. Some courts and/or prosecutors may require a hearing on the petition in person in court. If there has been a violation of probation, Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich recommends requesting an in-person hearing with the court so that all of the client’s mitigating factors and factors of rehabilitation are stressed to the judge.
There may be other forms of post-conviction relief available to someone who has been arrested in Los Angeles or anywhere in California. If you have been arrested but never charged, your case was dismissed, you were found not guilty or if you were arrested by mistake, you might be eligible to seal and destroy your arrest records.
You might also be eligible to reduce your conviction from a felony to a misdemeanor, or even from a misdemeanor to an infraction.
Furthermore, there may be circumstances in which you seek to ask the court to terminate your probation early. Typically, a judge will not terminate probation early unless there is some good cause, considerable change in circumstances, and will likely want the petitioner to complete at least half of their agreed-to probationary sentence. One example would be a client who had 8 months left of probation, but was offered a job, or accepted to a school, that was contingent on them being able to remove this conviction from their record. In that case, when empathized to judge about the opportunity to be a productive member of society that could be lost, the court decided to terminate probation early in the interests of justice.
If you have successfully completed all the terms of your probation, contact Attorney Ross Erlich for your free consultation and to get your expungement process started immediately.