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What is an expungement?

On behalf of Kenneth Krebs of Law Offices of Karlstrom & Krebs posted in Criminal Defense on Friday, October 3, 2014.

Individuals, who have been charged and convicted of misdemeanor or felony crimes, experience the repercussions of a conviction long after completing the terms of a sentence or probation. A criminal conviction can adversely impact an individual's ability to attend college, obtain a job and find housing. In certain cases, individuals convicted of certain criminal charges in California may be able to take steps to have those charges formally dismissed or expunged.

Individuals, who were convicted of misdemeanor or felony charges that could have been reduced to misdemeanor charges, may choose to explore how to obtain an expungement. The process for doing so, however, is complex and may require the advocacy and assistance of a criminal defense attorney.

In California an expungement does not erase or wipe clean a record of a conviction. Rather, a successful expungement provides for the formal dismissal of the applicable criminal charges. This means that when applying for most jobs, an individual is not required to disclose that he or she was ever convicted of a crime. By law, employers in California are prohibited from discriminating against a job candidate on the basis of criminal charges that were dismissed or expunged.

Individuals who were convicted of misdemeanor or felony charges that could have been reduced to a misdemeanor may seek an expungement provided the following circumstances apply.

  • At least 12 months have elapsed since a conviction
  • An individual has completed the terms of a sentence or probation
  • No additional charges are pending
  • An individual is not serving a sentence or probation related to another offense

An expungement can help open doors to opportunities that may have otherwise remained closed. A criminal attorney who handles expungements can answer questions about the process and help an individual reap the personal and financial gains that may result.

Source: California Courts, "Cleaning Your Record," 2014