In some cases, a criminal record can be expunged. The term “expungement” refers to the process of clearing or cleaning up an individual's criminal record. It is important to understand that not every record can be expunged. Expungement is possible in only a limited number of cases. If you have questions about whether your record could be expunged, it is best to speak with an attorney.
The process of expungement involves the individual requesting that the court reopen his criminal case, withdraw the guilty verdict or the plea, dismiss the charges, and then re-close the case without a conviction. When this occurs, the individual is no longer considered to be a convicted person.
Of course, the record itself still technically exists, but it will identify a different outcome. Generally, an expunged record will say something like dismissed in the “interests of justice” or “IOJ.”
As I noted above, not all criminal convictions are eligible for expungement. Qualified cases are typically limited to ones where the defendant was convicted of a misdemeanor or felony and he successfully completed his probation and is not currently charged with a criminal offense, on probation for a criminal offense, or is serving a sentence for another criminal offense.
Even if your case falls within those guidelines, there are certain types of convictions that are prohibited from being expunged. Under California law, serious vehicle code violations (where two or more points are added to your driving record) and sexual offenses against minors are not expungeable. If you are curious about your specific conviction, a detailed list of exceptions can be found here.
Generally, there are three laws used in expungement. These three include:
- Judgment and Execution (PC § 1203.4): This is used to expunge cases in which probation was part of the sentence.
- Judgment and Execution (PC § 1203.4(a)): This is used to expunge cases in which there was no probation.
- Preliminary Provisions (PC § 17): This is used to reduce a felony conviction to a misdemeanor, which can lead to it being dismissed.
If you qualify for expungement, your attorney will help to ensure that all of the necessary paperwork is completed in order for your petition to be reviewed. It will depend on your specific type of conviction, but the documentation involved in an expungement case may include:
- Petition for Dismissal;
- Order for Dismissal; and
Once a record has been expunged, one fact to be aware of is that an employer cannot ask someone applying for a job for information about an arrest or detention that did not end in a conviction. This is provided for in the California Labor Code. Further, an employer cannot ask about a referral to or participation in any diversion program. If the employer comes to find out any of this kind of information, she may not use it as a factor in hiring, promoting, or firing that person.
Certain DUI convictions may be able to be expunged. I have dedicated my practice to DUI defense in Fresno and the surrounding areas. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to give my office a call.