If you are ready to put your past behind you, our firm is ready to help. Beahm Law is the premier expungement law firm in the Bay Area, successfully expunging criminal convictions in many California counties. From applying to jobs with a newly clean record to avoiding immigration penalties, obtaining a California expungement might be a significant post-conviction option for you.
What Is an Expungement?
Expungement is a legal procedure that removes or diminishes certain offenses, releasing an individual from virtually all “penalties and disabilities” arising from the conviction. This means that once a conviction has been expunged, it does not have to be disclosed to an employer; private-sector employers and government employers alike will be required to treat applicants with dismissed convictions as though they have not had any convictions at all.
You may obtain an expungement by filing the application: (a) in person, (b) by an attorney, or (c) by a probation officer authorized in writing. The court may then either:
- permit the defendant to withdraw their plea of guilty or “nolo contendere” (no contest) and enter a plea of not guilty, or,
- if the defendant has been convicted after a plea of not guilty, set aside the verdict of guilty.
With this in mind, there are many benefits to obtaining a California expungement. Some of the most significant are:
- You will not be required to disclose your conviction when applying for a private-sector job;
- An employer may not discriminate against you based on expunged convictions;
- It will be easier to obtain a state professional license or government employment;
- Expunged convictions can't be used to impeach your credibility as a witness in court (unless you are the defendant being prosecuted against); and
- You may avoid certain immigration consequences, such as deportation and any travel-related issues.
However, be aware that expunged convictions may also still be used as prior convictions to enhance sentencing. For example, an expunged DUI still counts as a prior conviction if you are later arrested for another DUI. Additionally, an expunged conviction that would count as a “strike” under California's three-strikes law is still a strike.
Note that there are several limitations on what a California expungement can do. An expungement will not:
- overturn a driver's license suspension or revocation,
- restore California gun rights under California's felon with a firearm law, or
- end the duty to register as a California sex offender.
Am I Eligible for Expungement?
Expungement is available to defendants convicted of either California misdemeanors or felonies provided that:
- The defendant has successfully completed probation for the offense, and
- The defendant either:
- Did not serve time in state prison for the offense, or
- Served time in state prison but would have served it in the county jail had the crime been committed after implementation of “Realignment” under Proposition 47.
You are not eligible for expungement if you:
- are currently charged with a criminal offense,
- are on probation for a criminal offense or
- are serving a sentence for a criminal offense.
Be aware that a person is also not eligible for expungement if convicted of certain sex crimes involving children.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU VIOLATE PAROLE WHILE SEEKING EXPUNGEMENT?
If you have violated probation but still seek to be eligible for expungement, the court can decide to hold a special hearing to determine whether, despite the probation violation, you are nonetheless a good candidate for expungement. To determine your eligibility, the court would consider:
- the totality of your performance while on probation,
- the seriousness of the underlying conviction,
- your total criminal history, and
- any additional evidence that shows why you are deserving of an expungement, such as the opportunity to obtain a good job, the support of your family, and strong community ties.
Obtaining an Expungement in California
The typical timeframe for completing the expungement of a felony in California is about 4-5 months. You should file your application at the court in the county where you were convicted. Seeking an experienced attorney can help you most efficiently and appropriately obtain an expungement. Our firm can handle your entire expungement case for you, from filing to obtaining your proof of expungement from the court. We have even obtained California expungements for many clients who believed they were ineligible, so we will fight aggressively to defend your rights and your case.