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What Is Expungement? And Other Frequently Asked Questions

Expungement often refers to the process of getting your record cleaned. Although there is no 'true' expungement in the state of California, you may still find it useful to go through the process for many reasons.

At Mark Raymond McDonald, Esq., A Law Corporation, we understand the importance of knowing your rights when it comes to getting your record expunged. Here are some of our most frequently asked questions:

What does an expungement do?

Expungement is one of the only ways to clean a criminal record in the state of California. By getting your record expunged, you are restoring eligibility for specific jobs, housing opportunities, licenses, education opportunities, etc.

Ultimately, though, expungement allows you to deny being convicted of a crime on various applications.

How do I get my record expunged?

The process of cleaning your record varies based on the type of charge you are looking to expunge, so don't forget to consult an attorney about your eligibility. If the conviction is eligible, an attorney may advise you to obtain a copy of your criminal record, pay any outstanding fines, and complete probation before filing.

You may also be able to get any felony charges reduced, depending on the crime. Conversely, suppose you are looking for a misdemeanor to be expunged; in that case, you will need to obtain a Petition for Dismissal or CR-180.

What crimes can and cannot be expunged?

The California penal code explicitly outlines which persons can and cannot be considered eligible for expungement. For a case to be expunged, the applicant must consider whether they meet the following:

  • Successful completion or early termination of probation

  • Not currently on probation or undergoing any criminal proceedings, such as serving a sentence or charged with a crime

On the other hand, cases that are typically denied for expungement include:

  • Sodomy with a child

  • Lewd acts with a child, including oral sex

  • Sexual intercourse between those 21 and older and those younger than 16

Other sex-related crimes may be harder to get expunged. It is always better to double-check with an attorney or government official to see if your case is eligible before proceeding.

Do I have to go to court?

There may be some expungement cases in which a court hearing is required to take place. These typically include any kind of felony charge or if you are getting the charges reduced. However, if the expungement deals with a misdemeanor, the judge usually decides based on the paperwork filed.

How long does an expungement take?

On average, an expungement in California can take anywhere from 90 to 120 days. However, this can vary based on the court, how old the case is, or the kind of case. For example, a misdemeanor may take a few weeks to decide while a felony could take months.

It's important to note that expungement has to occur in the county that the charge originated in and does not apply to federal cases. Attempting to file an expungement in the wrong county could result in a longer process.

Can I be denied employment because of an expunged record?

In California, an employer may not deny you employment based solely on an expunged conviction. The Labor Code is also clear about how expungement cannot affect promotions, hiring, or employment termination.

Does expungement seal my criminal record?

While going through the process of getting your convictions expunged enables you to deny having a criminal charge, it does not necessarily mean your record is sealed and destroyed. This means that your criminal record can still be accessible to any private company doing a background check or can technically still be accessed online.

If you have any additional questions about cleaning your record or if you are eligible for expungement, contact the team at Mark Raymond McDonald, Esq., A Law Corporation to schedule a consultation, (909) 443-1599