Expunging a Conviction in California

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When Can I File for Expungement in California?

In California, you may expunge any conviction one year after you have complied with and completed your sentence, including paying all fines and restitution, and completing probation. This means that you can withdraw your plea of "guilty" or "no contest," and enter a plea of "not guilty" or have a guilty verdict set aside.

You can only have a conviction expunged if:

  1. You are not currently serving a sentence for another crime
  2. You have not been charged with another crime
  3. You have lived an "honest and upright life" since your conviction.

Once your conviction has been expunged, you are released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from your conviction, with some exceptions.

Note that offenses for which you served time in the state prison may not be expunged. This excludes a large number of felonies from expungement.

Exceptions to Expungement

If you are later charged with another crime, your past conviction, even if it has been expunged, may be reintroduced by the prosecution, and it has the same effect as if it hadn’t been expunged. Furthermore, if you seek to run for public office, you must disclose the conviction in response to a direct question.

If you have lost your right to carry a concealed weapon, expunging a conviction does not restore this right. Furthermore, if your conviction requires you to register as a sex offender, that obligation remains, even if the conviction is expunged.

Expungement Will Not Completely Erase Your Criminal Record

Successful expungement will not completely erase your criminal record. It simply erases the court’s finding of guilt, for most purposes. It allows you to honestly and legally say that you have not been convicted of the crime for which the conviction was expunged.

Consulting an Attorney

If you believe you qualify for expungement, then you should contact a criminal lawyer. An experienced lawyer can advise you on your course of action. He can also help you file the proper paperwork and speak on your behalf in court.

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Last Modified: 03-12-2014 03:04 PM PDT

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