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Expungement of California Misdemeanor Cases

If you’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony in California, you may fear that your criminal record will follow you throughout your life and bar you from employment, housing, education and other opportunities. However, it’s often possible to wipe the slate clean through a process called expungement. The skilled lawyers of The Kavinoky Law Firm are experienced in every aspect of California expungement and other forms of post-conviction relief, and will fight hard to clean up any individual’s criminal record.

California recently passed new laws that change the way expungements are granted. Effective Jan. 1, 2008, you must have a formal hearing to have a criminal conviction expunged. While in the past you were required only to meet certain requirements, now a judge has the discretion to decide whether expunging your conviction is in the best interests of justice.

However, expungement of California misdemeanor offenses is still possible if you meet certain criteria and have a successful court hearing. You must have completed all of the terms of your sentence and all requirements of probation. If you weren’t placed on probation, at least one year must pass between the date of conviction and the date that expungement is requested. You cannot have any criminal charges pending or be on probation for another offense.

Certain offenses cannot be expunged, including most sex crimes and violations of California Vehicle Code Section 42001(b) which includes sections 2800, 2801 and 2803.

If all of the requirements listed above are met, the process of expunging a California misdemeanor conviction is as follows: Your attorney files a petition with the original court of conviction to have the charges dismissed, and a hearing is held. If the hearing is successful, you will be allowed to withdraw your guilty or nolo contendere / no contest plea. If you were convicted by a judge or jury, the guilty verdict is set aside. When that occurs, the original charges are dismissed and you no longer have a conviction on your record.

Although expunging a California misdemeanor conviction has enormous benefits, there are also limitations. You must disclose expunged offenses in certain circumstances, including applications for public office or any state license, such as real estate, stock broker, doctor, lawyer, etc., or contracting with the California State Lottery.

Other circumstances not specifically mandated by law may also require disclosure, such as applications to become a police officer. In addition, restrictions such as firearm possession or requirement to register as a sex offender will still apply.

Despite the limitations, the benefits of expunging a California misdemeanor conviction are enormous. Having a clean criminal record eliminates hurdles to many opportunities, particularly employment. Perhaps even more valuable is the peace of mind that comes from rectifying a past mistake. To learn more about expungement or other forms of post-conviction relief, contact The Kavinoky Law Firm today for a free consultation.