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Expungement Basics: How to Clear Your Criminal Record

how-to-clear-your-criminal-recordHaving a criminal record can have serious consequences and negatively affect your life in many ways. If you have felony or misdemeanor on your record, it may interfere with job prospects, inhibit your ability to get approved for loans and licenses, or reduce your credit ratings. For these reasons, it can be a good idea to learn how to clear your criminal record by the process of expungement. This post covers expungement basics in California, although many other states have similar expungement laws and processes. Consult with a lawyer to find out more about your state’s expungement laws and figure out how to clear your criminal record.

Expungement Basics in California

California allows a person to have their past criminal convictions expunged in certain cases. When this happens, the conviction will show as “DISMISSED.” The information regarding a dismissal is then sent to the Department of Justice, and your criminal record will be wiped clean.

What are the benefits of expungement?

There can be many benefits of having your criminal record expunged. Here are some of the primary ways that expungement is beneficial:

Employment Benefits

Imagine you are interviewing for a job where the employer will conduct a background check. On the job application it asks if you have ever been convicted of a felony. It is illegal to answer this question untruthfully. But, when your record has been expunged, you can lawfully and truthfully answer “no” to the question. Your potential employer cannot legally inquire any further into the arrest or use it against you in determining your employment eligibility. See Labor Code 432.7 (a) for more details.

Getting Licenses

Maybe you are applying for a real estate license, contracting license, or you wish to apply for public office.  While you have to lawfully disclose convictions on an application for a state license, some license grants are contingent upon expungements, or at the very least, an expunged record will play in your favor.

Applying for Loans

An application for a loan is likely to go smoother if you have a clean record. The same goes for student loans and grants, even in the case of misdemeanors and more minor offenses.

Peace of Mind

You cannot put a price on peace of mind, especially in a world where background searches are at the fingertips of every Internet subscriber. Once you have expunged your criminal record, you will be able to rest assured that your past offenses and convictions cannot come back to haunt you.

What cases qualify for an expungement?

Cases that qualify for an expungement include felonies resulting in jail time or probation, misdemeanors, and/or infractions other than motor vehicle infractions. If you are on probation, you should petition the court to terminate your probation early in order to seek expungement.

The cases that do not qualify for expungement include sex offenses, some alcohol-related offenses and felonies, as well as most immigration consequences of a criminal conviction. Further, an expungement does not affect your Department of Motor Vehicles record. So you cannot expunge a DUI from your driving record.

How do I get started with expungement?

Expunging a record of a criminal conviction will require a person to file forms with the court in which he/she was convicted and serve the prosecutor with copies of the paperwork. While you can file the paperwork on your own, it can be a good idea to hire a lawyer to help you.

An attorney may be needed in some cases to determine how to efficiently navigate the process in your individual case and make sure everything is properly handled to expunge your records. Once the proper paperwork is filed and approved, your expungement will be complete.

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About Aaron George

Visionary. Entrepreneur. Law school dropout. Working on bringing the legal industry online. And blogging about it.

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