Understanding Expungement in California
March 22, 2023
We’re all familiar with the basic principles of crime and punishment—you’re convicted of a crime and you serve your punishment, whether it’s jail time, community service, probation, or an alternative sentence. But what happens after you’ve completed your punishment? In most cases, the conviction remains on your criminal record which can bring its own set of lasting consequences. However, some people may be eligible for expungement. The expungement process is often complicated and requires the help of a criminal defense attorney.
If you want to know more about this topic or have questions like, “Who is eligible for expungement?”, “What is the expungement process?”, or “Is it possible to have my record expunged of a crime?” reach out to me at Darryl A. Stallworth Law Office in Oakland, California. I’m proud to serve individuals in Alameda County, Northern California, San Francisco, and the entire Bay Area.
What Is Expungement?
When you have a previous criminal conviction expunged, it’s permanently hidden from your permanent record. This process is referred to as “dismissal” in California. This means that when someone performs a criminal background check on you (for example, for employment or housing), they will not see the conviction and it’s as if it never occurred.
Who Is Eligible for an Expungement?
In California, you may be eligible for expungement for both misdemeanor and felony convictions, or sentences of probation. However, there are certain exceptions, such as being convicted of a sex crime against a minor. You may also seek expungement if you received a sentence of probation, if you completed a diversion program, if your only charge was possession of marijuana, if you served time in a county jail on a felony conviction, or if you were convicted of a misdemeanor or infraction without probation. There are certainly other situations in which you may be able to seek expungement. Because the specifics of each case vary so much, it’s always a good idea to consult with an attorney if you think you might qualify for expungement.
Who Is Not Eligible?
There are certain crimes (typically felonies) that will bar you from seeking expungement in California. These include convictions of federal crimes, any conviction where you served time in state prison, if you were convicted of sex crimes involving minors, if you haven’t fully completed your probation, or if you’re currently serving a sentence or probation for another crime.
What Are the Benefits of an Expungement?
One of the biggest benefits of expungement is that your criminal record can no longer influence things like whether or not you’re approved to rent an apartment or get a job. This will improve your job prospects and increase your options for future education and housing. Eliminating your criminal record may also decrease your insurance premiums. If you’re granted expungement, you’re now legally able to claim that you’ve never been charged or convicted of a crime. Furthermore, almost all employers (with one notable exception being the police department) are also barred from asking about a crime that’s been expunged or crimes that you were charged with but never convicted of.
What Is the Process?
To pursue expungement, you’ll have to submit a petition (called a petition for dismissal) with the Superior Court where your conviction occurred. With this, you’ll need to provide an explanation of why you believe you qualify for expungement along with any supporting documentation or evidence. There is also a court fee associated with this. While you aren't required to do this with the help of an attorney, it’s recommended that you consult with an experienced lawyer to ensure you meet all criteria before applying.
Turn to Darryl Stallworth for Help
If you’re in the Oakland, California area or anywhere in Alameda County, Northern California, San Francisco, and the Bay Area, reach out to me for help with your dismissal. At my firm—Darryl A. Stallworth Law Office—you’ll be working with an attorney who’s truly concerned with your well-being and standing up for your rights. Contact me today to get started.