In California, a felony or misdemeanor conviction is registered with the Department of Justice and placed on a defendant’s public record. The conviction remains on that individual’s record for life until that person can successfully appeal for expungement of their record. This process is governed by Penal Code Section 1203, and allows for a person, in certain situations, to apply to have their convictions removed from the public profile.

How To Get Your Record Expunged

In order to accomplish this, several steps must be made. First, the person’s file must be ordered back to the Superior Court in which the conviction took place. Depending on the age of the conviction, this can take several weeks to arrive from County Archives. Once the file is available, a person can petition to have the case REOPENED by the sitting judge. In certain circumstances, once the matter is reopened, the person can then request to withdraw their previous plea of “guilty” or “no contest”, and then replace that plea with “not guilty”. If the judge grants this request, then the file will reflect that the case is functionally DISMISSED. At that point, the County will send an abstract of judgement to the Department of Justice to update their records, and the individual will be able to legally assert that they have not been convicted of that charge.
This relief is not a universal panacea to a criminal record. For example, federal agencies and state government licensing boards will not register that the matter has been dismissed. Frankly, they don’t care whether the matter was expunged–they will always recognize the previous conviction and aren’t basing their evaluation on what the PUBLIC record reflects. Moreover, some background check companies fail to update their records in a timely manner and may delivery outdated information (failing to double check the current DOJ records). In the event that they deliver outdated information–they have one opportunity to rectify their misinformation. Similarly, in the event that the conviction is a “priorable” offense, the conviction can be used to enhance the punishment for a subsequent conviction. For example, if the conviction is a DUI or a drug sale one, if there is a later conviction for the same crime–a prosecutor may use that previous conviction to enhance the punishment for a new crime regardless of whether the matter was expunged.
Despite this, an expungement can have wonderful effects on a person who is dogged by their previous criminal record. An unexpunged conviction can have life-long consequences for a person who is seeking new employment or immigration relief.
In order to have an expungement granted, a motion must be brought to the Superior Court judge, and a convict must be able to show that they accomplished certain things since the date of their conviction. If you have been convicted of a crime in the past and wish to have your public record cleared, please feel free to contact the Law Office of Brendan Barrett to explore your options. If you’re eligible for an expungement, the Law Office of Brendan Barrett can work for you to get it done. Send Mr. Barrett and email today to see if your conviction qualifies.