Today, there are millions of Americans who face hardships in their professional and personal lives as a result of one or more criminal records lurking in their past. If you have a criminal conviction on your police record, you are sure to face a myriad of difficulties that range from public prejudice to being locked out of a professional career because you cannot access a state-issued license.
Often times, it may be too late before you realize the root of your problems, for example, realizing that you have been disqualified from a career opportunity that you were pursuing or an apartment rental that you have been waiting for months to lease. With an expungement, you can rise above that nagging past mistake and start building your life anew.
Expungement is also known as a dismissal or expunction and refers to setting aside a criminal conviction through a court-ordered process that may also involve erasing or sealing the said conviction from a legal viewpoint.
The truth is that despite rehabilitation and serving out your sentence, you may find it difficult to continue with your life as before your conviction. In fact, since your crime and conviction are a matter of public record, it will definitely hover over you like an albatross for the rest of your life since all it takes to surface is a criminal background check from your potential employer, landlord, or even a love interest.
Ergo, regardless of how hard you work, how much you have changed, or how many dreams you wish to fulfill, that one past mistake affects your chances of achieving your goals. Therefore, if you or one of your loved ones has a criminal conviction in their record, it is pertinent to take advantage of expungement under Penal Code 1203.4 PC.
Although not all criminal conviction records are destroyed, there exists a legal procedure that allows you to expunge certain misdemeanor and felony charges. While the entire process can be long and daunting, the benefits you accrue from a successful expungement far outweigh the complications.
In the end, it will not matter whether you were convicted of a traffic violation, petty charge, or a drug offense, expungement gives you a fresh start. However, expungement does not erase, remove, restore, or delete your record to make it appear like nothing happened. Instead, you will be allowed to enter a plea of ‘not guilty’ and withdraw your previous one – either ‘guilty’ or ‘no contest.’ After this, your case will be dismissed while your records will be updated.
The Benefits of Expungement
The benefits of a California record expungement include:
- Assistance with finding and securing a job
- Helps you obtain a professional license
- Helps you join a professional organization
- Entry to colleges or universities
- Find safe housing
- Witness credibility in court
- Insurance rates
- Restoration of your voting rights
- Personal satisfaction
- Social reasons
- Student loans
Below is an in-depth look at these benefits on the quality of your life post criminal conviction.
- Assistance with Finding and Securing a Job
Perhaps the most valuable benefit of having your criminal conviction records expunged is it helps you secure employment and any other related benefits such promotions. Getting a job after your incarceration is hard since most employers run background checks on all job applicants and new employees during the hiring process.
Background checks usually disclose your records of arrests, conviction, and probation status since they are a matter of public record. What’s more, employers will ask you if you have ever been arrested and/or convicted of a crime. However, they are only legally allowed to ask this if they give you a conditional offer of employment and not before.
The discovery of your criminal record could ruin your chances of being fairly considered for the job even if the law does not condone any form of discrimination due to your conviction status. Unfortunately, given a choice between hiring someone with a clean record and one with a criminal record, most employers will opt for the former.
Hence all the more reason to have your criminal conviction expunged from your record under PC 1203.4, which allows you to truthfully answer with a ‘no’ when asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime. Employers are not allowed to consider expunged records during their hiring decision-making process. Under section 432.7 of the California Labor Code, no employer is allowed to:
- Discriminate against you based purely on your criminal past.
- Ask you about the details of your expunged conviction.
As you can see, having your conviction expunged and/or sealed is the best course of action to restoring employer faith in you and other individuals with past criminal convictions. This allows you to pursue any job without fear.
- Helps You Obtain a Professional License
Certain professions, such as contractual work or real estate agency, mandate you to have a state-issued license to operate. Others require certification before the issuance of a license. A criminal conviction on your record may exclude you from being licensed or certified. Ergo, California’s Penal Code 1203.4 offers a great relief to individuals with a criminal conviction by allowing them to receive state licenses.
However, despite the expunged status on your record, you are still obligated to disclose your conviction if:
- You are asked during your application for public office
- You are contracting with the California state lottery
- Asked by a state licensing board when applying for a contractor, medical, law, or real estate license
Many state licensing agencies are more than likely to issue licenses to qualified individuals who have had their criminal records expunged and completed their probation period.
- Helps You Get Accepted into a Professional Organization
Many professional organizations in California do background checks on an individual before inviting them to join or hold a position. As you can see, no matter how qualified you may be, if you have a criminal conviction on your records, you will not be allowed to join most professional organizations because it may reflect poorly on their part. This is a social stigma that you do not have to face after expungement.
- Entry to Colleges or Universities
As a student, a criminal record can be quite detrimental since your college or university may decide to expel you from your program and refuse, or withdraw, your grant or any other sort of financial aid. What’s more, they may decide to make you ineligible for any honors or awards.
Furthermore, if you decide to join or transfer to another learning institution, your application may be denied due to your conviction status. The same applies when you want to apply for postgraduate studies since most graduate schools inquire about their applicants’ criminal history.
Therefore, to make sure that you better your chances at higher education and gain admission to the institution of your choice, you should consult one of our experienced record expungement lawyers on how to clean your criminal record. California’s Penal Code 1203.4 protects you from revealing your conviction status and reduces the stigma you may otherwise face in college.
- Find Safe Housing
Finding good housing is hard enough without having to worry about your criminal conviction record holding you back. Many landlords are protective of their properties, tenants, and reputation, which means they are more likely to deny you a lease if you have a criminal record. Landlords and estate agents run background checks before approving leases to lock out prospective tenants with dubious backgrounds.
Unfortunately, many landlords do not care about the details of your conviction or the fact that you have atoned for your mistakes and have been rehabilitated after serving your sentence. This may eventually force you to settle in a less desirable neighborhood. In this case, investing in expungement and a good attorney will not only go a long way in helping you move forward in life but also secure that apartment lease you covet.
- Witness Credibility in Court
Expungement prevents your past convictions from being used in court by the prosecution or opposing side to impeach your credibility and integrity as a witness. However, this exception only applies if you are not the defendant who’s facing prosecution in a criminal case.
An unexpunged conviction on your record can be used by the prosecution to your disadvantage. They can argue that your past criminal conviction warrants the court to question your credibility as a witness. Hence all the more reason to have your conviction expunged. Expungement is helpful, for instance, during a civil suit where you sue or are sued by a third party for damages and your testimony is critical to the outcome.
- Insurance Rates
All insurance companies run background checks on any potential client, and a past mistake that saw you get arrested and convicted could affect your insurance rates. In fact, if you apply for insurance coverage in Sherman Oaks or California at large, the insurance companies will most likely charge you extremely high insurance premiums once it discovers your criminal record.
Also, depending on the type of crime for which you were convicted, the insurer may opt out of providing you with cover altogether. Ergo, it is important to have your conviction expunged so that you may not have to pay undeservedly higher premiums and rates when seeking insurance cover.
- Restoration of Your Voting Rights
Individuals with a criminal conviction on their records are stripped of their right to vote and participate in electing the leaders they want. Though it seems harsh that a silly mistake in your past prevents you from voting, the law is still the law and until you have your conviction expunged you will remain an electoral spectator. So, contact Record Expungement Attorney today to expunge your conviction and have your voting rights reinstated as soon as possible.
- Personal Satisfaction
Many people with past criminal convictions experience a great deal of relief once they are issued an order of expungement from the court. Although it does not completely erase the past, it goes a long way in allowing you to move on from that one mistake that got you into trouble with the law, close that frustrating chapter of your life, and move past it as you endeavor to better yourself.
Expungement also gives you a sense of peace and stability since you do not have to constantly relieve your past mistakes in every interview process you undertake because you are required to reveal your criminal record. Besides, even if you choose to remain silent, a simple background check is all it takes to reveal that part of your life.
Thus, you should not wait until you decide to begin applying for jobs, an apartment, or a state-issued license to start pursuing the process of expungement. Once you approach us, we will do all the heavy lifting for you throughout your petition so that you do not have to.
When applying for adoption, either as a single parent or as a couple, the adoption agency will run a criminal background check against you as part of their process. Of course, if you have a criminal conviction, you will most likely not be able to adopt a child. Note that having a criminal record does not mean that it will automatically disqualify you, but it reduces your chances of being approved.
Here, the primary deciding factors include the nature of your offense, how much time has passed since your conviction and sentencing, and how you lived your life since then. Therefore, expungement can go a long way in qualifying you to adopt since you will not be legally inclined to disclose your criminal conviction.
- Social Reasons
It is important, and therapeutic, to move on with your life after your criminal conviction and sentencing. This is why expungement is essential to your wellbeing since you will no longer have to disclose your past mistakes. You can start afresh in a new location without your past following you.
- Student Loans
As a student, a minor drug conviction is enough to prevent you from obtaining student aid such as loans and grants, and if you already have one you can lose it if the college gets wind of your conviction. An expungement can help you restore your student loan eligibility allowing you to finance your studies.
What Expungement Will Not Do
Yes, expungement has numerous benefits but it is important to fully understand and appreciate what it can and cannot do. It has several limits, and it may not be a viable option for everybody. Our attorneys will first look at the details of your case when you hire us to see if you qualify for an expungement and then explain the process to you.
Below are some of the things your expungement won’t do:
- It will not clear or erase everything in your criminal records. Instead, your records will show ‘case dismissed.’
- It won’t end your obligation to register as a sex offender with the state if it is one of the requirements of your conviction.
- It will not automatically restore your gun ownership or possession rights. However, there are other ways to have these rights restored despite your criminal conviction and it is worth consulting a seasoned record expungement attorney on the way forward.
- An expunged crime can still count as a prior offense especially if you commit a similar offense in future. For example, an expunged DUI offense will still count as a prior if you are arrested for driving under the influence again.
- You must still disclose your conviction after expungement when applying for certain positions including law enforcement, state lotto, or public official.
- Some state licensing boards still require you to disclose your conviction irrespective of whether or not it was expunged.
Contact Us Today
Although no California lawyer can guarantee the successful expungement of your criminal records, Record Expungement Attorney can significantly increase your chances of success by ensuring that due diligence is observed. We have some of the best attorneys in the state who are skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced in record expungement and other related legal remedies such as record sealing or applying for a governor’s pardon.
If you are ready to move past your criminal conviction and start afresh, our hotline is open 24/7/365 so contact us anytime at 805-836-0422 and schedule a free and informative consultation. You can also come to our office at 30700 Russell Ranch Road, Suite 250, Westlake Village, California, 91362.