Expunging Sex Crimes From One’s Criminal Record

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Expunging Sex Crimes From One’s Criminal Record

Crimes in California fall under three main categories: Misdemeanors, felonies and wobblers. The expungement of one’s criminal record that contains a sex crime conviction may be possible, depending on the category under which the sex offense was sentenced. If seeking such relief, it is absolutely necessary to hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with the ways in which expungements are permitted, and who knows the most effective ways to convince the court that this type of relief is appropriate.

Expunging one’s record essentially means clearing one’s record. It is a process by which an individual’s court file is sealed, allowing an individual to honestly claim, under most circumstances, that he or she has no criminal history. Expungement is most useful to those desiring gainful employment, housing security, funding for higher education, and simple peace of mind.

Those who were convicted of California sex crimes (either misdemeanors or felonies without a prison sentence, where probation was granted) may be entitled to an expungement. Under these circumstances, an individual may be permitted to withdraw his or her Guilty or No Contest plea to enter a Not Guilty plea, or will have his or her guilty verdict set aside if convicted following a trial. If the defendant’s probation was terminated early at the request of his or her attorney or expired after the defendant met all of his or her obligations, if he or she is not on probation for or serving another sentence and is not charged with another offense, the court must dismiss the underlying charge. If, however, the offender incurred a violation while on probation, it is within the court’s discretion whether or not to grant the expungement.

For procedural and strategic reasons, a knowledgeable defense attorney will likely ask the court to reduce a wobbler to a misdemeanor prior to moving for the expungement, as it is better to have a dismissed misdemeanor on one’s record than a dismissed felony. It must be noted, however, that even if a wobbler is reduced, if it originally counted as a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law, it will continue to do so.

Although it has many benefits, having one’s conviction expunged does not completely cleanse one’s record. There are a variety of circumstances where an individual must still disclose the conviction, and these include applying for licensure by any state or local agency, contracting with the California State Lottery, and applying for public office. Perhaps most significant is the fact that an expungement does not relieve one’s requirement to register as a sex offender, pursuant to Penal Code 290 if previously ordered to do so. Finally, there are certain sex offenses (for example, distributing obscene materials to a minor) that, if committed more than once, automatically rise from misdemeanors to felonies. Even if an individual’s record is expunged, that prior offense will still count towards the enhanced sentence.

Those who have incurred felony convictions for their sex crimes that resulted in state prison sentences are ineligible for expungement and must apply for either a certificate of rehabilitation and/or a full pardon. Certificates are available to those who have been California residents for at least three years, and who have lead an honest life, free from criminal convictions for a specified amount of time, determined by the underlying offense. If approved, the governor receives a copy of the certificate, which becomes an application for a pardon. Certain sex crimes are excluded from this relief, and an individual convicted of such an offense must directly apply for a pardon. Pardons are reserved for those who have demonstrated exceptional reform.

An individual who wishes to pursue a sex crime expungement must contact a qualified California sex offense attorney. The experienced sex crime defense lawyers at The Kavinoky Law Firm know the most effective ways to apply for relief and will guide their clients employing the utmost skill and diligence. For unparalleled assistance in expunging one’s sex crime conviction, contact them today for a free consultation.