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  • Writer's pictureBlair Goss

How to Expunge Misdemeanor | California Rules to Consider

California law has certain conditions for those who want to expunge their record. Even though it's possible to get rid of certain convictions, making the slightest mistake could lead to a request denial.


Hiring a professional attorney ensures the person can get all the information they need to file their claim successfully. By expunging a record, it may be possible to avoid problems when renting a property or finding a job, for example


This page outlines how to expunge a misdemeanor and other essential information everyone should know about the process.


What Does It Mean to Expunge a Criminal Offense?

What Does It Mean to Expunge a Criminal Offense?


Expunging criminal convictions involves releasing a person from all the "penalties and disabilities" these cases involve. Those who request an expungement and get it approved, for example, can tell their employer that they haven't been convicted of a criminal offense before.


Something crucial to note about expunging is that it only helps to erase the misdemeanor from a criminal history at a "virtual" level. It doesn't physically erase the conviction.


The California Penal Code (1203.4) allows people to withdraw their previous guilty or "no contest" plea. Then, they can re-enter a "not guilty" plea, which can help get the case dismissed.


It's crucial to note that people may only expunge their California criminal record if they've completed probation and if they didn't receive a charge that resulted in a prison sentence. Moreover, they can't be currently:


- Facing a criminal offense charge
- Going through a probation process
- Serving a sentence

Usually, those who went to state prison won't qualify for an expungement, unless the crime they were sentenced for is one for which they would be now sentenced to county jail.


While a dismissed conviction offers many benefits to a person, it can still be used against them in a subsequent prosecution. However, it may only work as evidence of prior behavior.


What Does It Mean to Complete Probation Successfully?

When someone completes their probation successfully, it means they:


- Completed all the terms surrounding their probation
- Attended every court hearing
- Didn't make a probation violation
- Didn't commit any new crimes during their probation

Which Criminal Records Can Be Expunged in California?


Technically, almost all charges can be expunged.


Not all offenses apply, though. Some serious cases, such as sex offenses committed against children, aren't applicable.


Other crimes include:


- Sexual assault crimes
- Lewd acts with a minor
- Failure to submit to a police inspection of a vehicle

What Are the Benefits of Expunging a Criminal Record?


Even though it seems like expunging a criminal conviction like a misdemeanor won't do much, it offers many benefits to the person. Due to the nature of the expungement process, those with a prior misdemeanor or felony conviction can hide it from many types of background checks.


Being able to "virtually" hide the past conviction comes with benefits like:


- Becoming eligible for professional certifications or licenses
- Making it simpler to find and get hired at a job
- Becoming eligible for professional companies or organizations
- Dealing with the social pressure that comes from having a public record.

What about the things that an expungement won't do? Here are some of them:


- Restore the right to bear arms in California
- Overturn a suspension of a driver's license
- End the person's duty to register as a sex offender

Those wanting to deal with these problems may seek help with the California Certificate of Rehabilitation or the California Governor's Pardon.


Something to keep in mind is that expunging isn't the same as sealing. When someone goes through an expungement process, they won't necessarily seal their record. Most of the time, they will have to complete other steps.


How to Start the Expungement Process


Sacramento misdemeanor lawyers may be able to aide in this process. Expunging a criminal record involves certain activities that must be done carefully. Those who want to get their record expunged should do the following:


Hire an Attorney

Hiring a lawyer ensures people file their claims the right way. This helps them to account for many things like paying the filing fee and choosing the right superior court.


Fill Out the Paperwork and File the Expungement

An attorney understands how state and federal law works, which makes it much easier to deal with the paperwork. They can also provide insight on how long does a misdemeanor stay on your record in california.


In the case of a misdemeanor, the person must file a petition under PC 1203.4. Said petition involves withdrawing the plea and entering a "not guilty" one. If the person's conviction happened by verdict, they must also request to set the court record aside.


Once the paperwork is filed, the court will schedule a hearing. Some people may not have to attend the hearing if their expungement attorney is there. Their role is to show that it's in the court's best interest to expunge that conviction from the person's record.


If the judge decides to expunge these misdemeanor convictions, they will be set aside, which leads to the charges getting dismissed.


Something important to keep in mind is that the prosecutor must be notified 15 days before the hearing. This will give them the necessary time to review the case and challenge the request if necessary. However, if the prosecutor doesn't object to the expungement petition, they can't challenge it later.


The person must pay a fee when filing their claim, although the amount will depend on the type of offense and the county. Goss Law can also answer the question what is a misdemeanor in california?


Seal the Expungement

Those who get their case approved must seal it if they want it to be hidden from the public. Once they're done, they can deny having a criminal record in most scenarios.

On the other hand, if the expungement petition gets denied, the person has six months to refile it.


Bottom Line - The Importance of Getting Help from a California Expungement Attorney

Bottom Line - The Importance of Getting Help from a California Expungement Attorney


How long does it take for a person's record to be expunged? Usually, it may take from 90 to 120 days for the court order to get processed. It mostly depends on who's handling the case.


While filing for an expungement can be stressful, it's not impossible. Those wanting to expunge a prior conviction can seek help from the experts at Goss Law, as they have all the experience necessary to file a successful claim.

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