A criminal conviction on your record can severely cut down on your job opportunities and prevent you from fulfilling your potential in the job or career of your choice. In California, expungements under Penal Code section 1203.4 serve as the most common way that a person can clear his record for purposes of employment.
How Does It Work?
If the judge grants the expungement, she sets aside your guilty verdict or plea and dismisses your case for most purposes. The Court would then inform the Department of Justice of the change of status of your conviction and your record would be amended.
So It’s Like I’ve Never Been Convicted?
Not exactly. There are some restrictions that resulted from your conviction would still remain: for example, if you were convicted of a felony, you would still be prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition and if you were prohibited from ever holding public office as a result of your conviction, this restriction still remains. The conviction does not change any restrictions on your driver license. Finally, the order does not relieve you from your obligation to disclose the conviction in response to any direct question in a questionnaire or application for public office, for licensure by any state or local agency, or for contracting with the California State Lottery Commission.
What If I Am Still On Probation, But Want To Expunge My Conviction. Is That Possible?
If you are still on probation for the offense, but have served more than half of your term, you can often successfully petition for an early termination of probation in the same petition in some jurisdictions.
Further, if you were convicted of a felony wobbler offense (i.e. an offense that could be charged as a felony or misdemeanor), you can petition for the court to reduce the offense to a misdemeanor before the dismissal. The benefit of that reduction is that the offense will become a misdemeanor for all purposes. So even at the times that you have to disclose your conviction after the expungement (such as when you are applying for work at a state agency) you can state that you were convicted of a misdemeanor rather than a felony.
Do I Qualify for an Expungement?
To qualify for an expungement under section 1203.4, a person convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony must have been
(1) sentenced to a sentence of probation (i.e. not state prison, though serving jail time as part of probation is O.K.) and
(2) have completed probation successfully.
At the time you apply for an expungement, you must not be serving a sentence for another offense, have a pending case for another offense, or be on probation for any offense.
What Types of Convictions Can Be Expunged?
Most convictions for which you got a sentence of probation can be expunged. However, if you were convicted of a crime listed in Vehicle Code section 42002.1 (Vehicle Code sections 2800, 2801 and 2803), or certain sex offenses, you will not be eligible for relief under section 1203.4. As mentioned above, you will not be able to get an expungement under 1203.4 if you received a state prison sentenced.
And Employers Can’t Ask About the Conviction If It Has Been Expunged?
That’s correct–aside from the few exceptions listed above, employers are prohibited from asking a person to disclose an expunged conviction. Furthermore, employers are prohibited from using other means of research (such as a background search) to obtain this information and using it as a factor determining your hiring, firing, promotions, or any other condition of employment.
Expunging a conviction can help you get the clean slate you need to get back into the job market. If you or someone you know is interested in clearing your criminal record, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Maria Belyi.
Please note that this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.