What does it mean to have your record expunged?

Posted on August 1, 2017

Expungement is a term commonly known for a motion brought pursuant to California Penal Code §1203.4. In layman's terms, an expungement clears your record, but it doesn't remove it permanently. Someone could still visit the local courthouse, request to examine your file, and find all the documents from the original complaint through the expungement. While a criminal record can't be sealed through expungement, this procedure is still the best process available to those who plead guilty, no contest, or are convicted by a jury under California law.

Generally, these motions can be brought following successful completion of probation and are granted automatically. There are however, several instances when the petition for expungement is discretionary, in the case of a DUI charged after 2009 the process isn't automatic, and in many counties, requires an affidavit or declaration in support of the petition. This is where an experienced DUI defense attorney can help.

How Do I Get a Misdemeanor Expunged from my Record?

An expungement gives a person charged and convicted of DUI a chance to start anew and prohibits employers from asking about certain criminal records. An applicant can deny the prior criminal conviction on job applications and job interviews in private sector settings. If granted the Court finds the person bringing the motion "not guilty" of the charges they pled guilty or no contest to at the time probation was granted. This legal fiction has limits but for many people it provides an opportunity to move upward within their current job or change jobs without the concern that a DUI conviction will prevent them from getting a job offer.

How Can I Get My Record Expunged?

It isn't required that the applicant complete their term of probation, California Penal Code § 1203.3 allows a person to petition for early termination of probation. These petitions generally are viewed with more scrutiny than a petition brought after probation has expired. Again, a carefully drafted declaration in support of the motion can sway the decision in the petitioner's favor.

Generally, expungements may proceed when the probation period has been successfully completed. Successful completion usually means that all terms and conditions of probation have been completed without a probation violation. This means that the fines have been paid, DUI school attended and finished, any jail or community service has been completed and there have been no additional criminal offenses. Further, the applicant can't be facing charges or on probation on a different matter.

Assuming these conditions have been met many judges will entertain an expungement petition and consider granting that petition, even over the objection of the prosecutor.

Is there anything that an expungement doesn't cover?

An expungement has very specific limitations most specifically it will not remove the conviction from the petitioners "rap sheet." Which means if you have a DUI expunged and you pick up another DUI within the "look back" period (currently, 10 years) the expunged case can be used to enhance the new DUI charges by adding a prior conviction.

If you have lost right to own or possess a firearm an expungement will likely not reinstate your rights to firearms.

If your conviction requires you to register as a sex offender, an expungement will not change that requirement.

An expungement will not "seal" your record, if a background check company goes to the courthouse and requests your file, the file and its records, are open to public inspection.

If you are applying for a government issued license, you must provide information regarding the expunged offense.

Finally, an expungement will not prevent a conviction from being used by immigration officials for removal and exclusion purposes.

How Long Do I Have to Wait to Get My Record Expunged?

A criminal conviction may be expunged any time after the criminal conviction has occurred. Generally, the more time you serve on probation the greater your chances of a successful motion. Any petition filed prior to the termination of the probation period must be accompanied by a Motion for Early Termination of Probation. The timing of these motions will vary from county to county, and crime underlying the conviction. Since a DUI isn't automatically granted an expungement upon the successful completion of probation we recommend making an Early Termination of Probation motion no earlier than 18 months prior to the termination of the probation period.

How Long Does the Process Take?

Many counties unfortunately have long processing windows that cause delays between the filing of a motion and the hearing date. Bair Legal recommends that the sooner you start the expungement process, the sooner you may advance in your job, transfer to a new job, and generally move on with your life.

Bair Legal has the legal expertise to expunge your record. Call (510) 434-1400 to schedule a free expungement consultation. Mr. Bair will review the facts of your case and determine the best course of action. He has helped many clients expunge their records; many wish they had contacted him sooner. He is fast and efficient at expungements and has a very high success rate. Call (510) 434-1400 to discuss your case and determine what to do next.