Introduction to Post Conviction Relief in California

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Post-conviction relief is possible with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.


Need for Post-Conviction Relief

post-conviction reliefLife following a conviction is not always fun. As the world gets smaller and technology makes our private life more public, our lives are more connected. Which means, past criminal conviction can become a future obstacle.

While past convictions cannot disappear, the law provides important ways help. In fact, the law places limits on the impact of a prior arrest and/or conviction on one’s future. It is possible to gain relief from a prior conviction. Actually, sometimes the prior conviction falls apart  This area of law is commonly referred to as post-conviction relief, or post-judgment relief.

Ultimately post conviction relief is a way to clear a criminal record by dismissing the case, limiting public access to the records regarding the arrest and conviction, or alleviating certain consequences associated with the conviction. A good criminal defense attorney can quickly assess the best option in each individual case.

Cleaning up Your Record

Post-conviction relief is of critical importance to anyone convicted of a criminal offense. If a person wants to clean up his or her criminal record. A criminal record is like a credit report and can often be accessed by others. Anyone with a criminal offense in their past knows that the punishments of the conviction go beyond fines, probation and jail time. A prior conviction can have a negative impact on employment opportunities, educational goals, and self-confidence. It’s probably one of the most frustrating aspects of life following conviction.

There are several common forms of post-conviction, or post-judgment, relief available including: expungement, sealing and destruction of records, reduction of felony to misdemeanor, and certificates of rehabilitation and/or pardon.

Expungement is the most common option for people who have prior misdemeanor and certain felony convictions on their criminal record. This process is essentially a dismissal of the conviction after the probationary period ends and is a requirement for many employers and professional licensing boards.

In certain circumstances, arrest records, and even prior conviction records, are not accessible. You can seal them and ultimately destroy them legally. If records are sealed then the arrest is deemed to have never occurred and public access is limited. Approval for sealing is not a guarantee. They are much more common in cases in which a juvenile offender faced charges or when an offender faced arrest but not conviction.

Reductions in Sentencing

Even after a conviction, some felonies receive criminal reductions to misdemeanors. In fact, reduction to a misdemeanor typically goes hand-in-hand with expungement.

Reducing a felony to a misdemeanor helps clean up a criminal record. More serious felonies generally require a gubernatorial pardon. Furthermore, these pardons go directly to the governor or following a Certificate of Rehabilitation. Certificates of Rehabilitation come from a judge. Once approved, the certificate goes to governor as an application for pardon. In turn, if granted, a pardon restores most all rights prior to conviction. This includes restoration of gun possession rights and relief from sex offender registration.

Because of the vast nature of forgiveness for conviction, it is not easy to receive expungement. In fact, most forms of post conviction relief, including expungement, sealing and destroying records or vacating convictions, require a judge’s approval. Other types of relief are simple. Some even occur automatically. For example, destruction of minor misdemeanor marijuana records. A direct pardon however, requires an application to the governor.

Hire an Attorney

Almost everyone with a criminal conviction can benefit from post conviction relief. Due to the complexities of post-conviction relief, it’s best to use an attorney. An attorney at The Kavinoky Law Firm can help to determine which form of post conviction relief is best. We hire only the best attorneys in Los Angeles. Contact a skilled defense lawyer today for a free consultation.

Brianna Wilkins
Brianna Wilkins