If you have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, then you've likely experienced the constant headaches that come with having a criminal record and trying to compete in the job market. Having a criminal conviction can create significant challenges to obtaining employment and promotions, maintaining professional licenses, receivinge financial aid and even traveling abroad. To make matters worse, recent improvements in technology have made it even easier for employers to conduct inexpensive background checks, making it much more challenging for people with criminial convictions to be competitive in the job market.
Having a criminal conviction expunged allows you to get a fresh start by providing you with the mechanism by which you are allowed to withdraw your guilty plea or court conviction and having the judge dismiss the case. Once your motion is granted and the case is expunged, your criminal record to reflect that the case has been dismissed and is no longer classified as a conviction.
I strongly believe that one past mistake shouldn't haunt someone forever, no matter how severe. However, I also understand that some cases require intensive strategic planning in order to be successful. Whether a case is simple or complex, I work with my clients diligently in order to flush out potential issues in advance. I also make sure my clients are absolutely clear on what an expungement can and cannot accomplish.
What the Law Says about Expungements
California Penal Code section 1203.4 provides that once a criminal conviction has been dismissed through an expungement, the defendant is released from “all penalties and disabilities” arising from the conviction. This means that when you are filling out an employment application or being interviewed after an expungement has been granted, you may honestly tell the employer that you do not have a criminal record because the conviction has been dismissed.
While an expungement of your criminal record can be a powerful tool for rebuilding your life after a criminal conviction, it is not automatic. It is not available for everyone.
The requirements for an expungement include the following:
- You must complete all terms and conditions of your probation
- You cannot be subject to new charges, probation or criminal sentences
- The crime to be expunged must not have resulted in a state prison term
- Expungement is not available for certain sex crimes
You must have complied with the all the terms of your probation, including paying fines and restitution, performing community service, and completing any counseling or treatment programs. While you typically have to wait to expunge your conviction only after probation has been completed, if certain conditions are satisfied, I can ask the court to terminate your probation early.
The unwritten rule in San Diego is that you must be compliant on probation for at least half the period of probation before a judge will even consider a motion to terminate probation early.
In the event you did not successfully complete all the terms of your probation successfully, I can sometimes ask the judge that you still be considered for an expungement, despite a probation violation, if the circumstances warrant such a request. At the hearing, the court will consider factors such as: your criminal history, compliance with the terms of probation, the nature of your offense, and your family and occupational responsibilities.
It has been my experience that many of my clients who have suffered a probation violation, and who are seeking an expungement, still have many strong reasons why the court should grant the expungement, despite the probation violation.
DUI Expungement in San Diego
Expungement requests for DUI, where someone has been convicted for driving a vehicle under the influence or with a prohibited blood alcohol level, are by far the most common type of expungement request made in San Diego. Regardless, the majority of these felony and misdemeanor DUI case are still eligible for expungement provided that the client meets all of the conditions listed above. However with DUI expungements, the law is clear that judges must exercise their discretion when considering the motion and they must only grant expungements that are supported by the "interests of justice." Whether someone can demonstrate that the interests of justice support the court granting their DUI expungement varies widely from case to case. Many of the issues my clients run into stem from the fact that they might have suffered several DUI convictions, rather than just one, or they made the decision to drive with a suspended license while on probation and got caught. Visit the DUI Center section of this website to learn more about DUI investigations and ways you can avoid suffering a DUI conviction.