What Are The Top Misconceptions About Expungement?

Most people think that automatically your case is going to be expunged when probation is over. This tends to be the greatest mistake that individuals make. Often because they make that mistake, a new offense may get on their record at which time they are not able to get the case expunged. It’s critical to get the case expunged as early as possible. Another mistake is that people believe that an expungement destroys or seals a record; it does not although it allows you the privilege of indicating that you’ve never been convicted. That record is not destroyed or sealed.

How Does The Expungement Process Work In California?

The expungement process is relatively easy. There is a form to be filled out called the 1203.4 form, which is then filed with the court. There is a fee, usually between $120 and $150, which has to be filed with that. You may or may not have to appear in court. The court may very well just grant the motion without a hearing, or it may require one. At that hearing, the accused or their attorney will explain to the court why the expungement is appropriate, how the individual has rehabilitated themselves, why they are no longer in danger of committing another offense and anything else that could be pointed out by the attorney to the court.

What Are The Paperwork And Documentation Required For An Expungement?

The main information you need to complete the form is your conviction date, your case number, the charge of which you were convicted, the court where that conviction took place and the date of the arrest.

How Long Does The Expungement Process Typically Take?

The process itself depends upon the court system. The process of filling out the form and filing it can be completed in a couple of hours. However, for the county clerk to process the file and get it to the court is where the hang-up occurs. If the case is several years old, it may take some time before they’re even able to find the legal file. Once they find the legal file, the clerk’s office is not always the most expedient in getting that file to the court. A good rule of thumb is that it takes approximately six to eight weeks. However, one can certainly expedite that by appearing before the court and making a special appearance to expedite the expungement.

What If I Am Found To Be Ineligible For An Expungement?

The only other remedy is a pardon before the governor. A pardon is a situation where the governor decides that you are eligible to have your entire conviction and record thrown out. The reality is that there are thousands and thousands of individuals, who apply for pardons, and there are only dozens of pardons that are ever granted by the governor each year. The reality is that the current governor, Jerry Brown, has granted more pardons than any other governor in past history. So it behooves you to try to file your pardon now while he is still in office.

What Does A Record Look Like After A Successful Expungement?

What your record will look like is basically a litany of the entire process. It will show the arrest, the charge, the conviction, the subsequent motion to withdraw the plea and the subsequent dismissal of the case. All of that will be available to those individuals that have access to a criminal file. Those individuals are usually state agencies and not the average employer. In terms of the employer, when you are able to indicate that you’ve never been convicted of a crime, that, in most cases, will terminate the inquiry.

Will Someone Ever Have To Admit To A Conviction After A Successful Expungement?

You won’t, which is the major benefit of the expungement. However, police are able to access the record, like any other state, county or government agency, which will have access to your complete file.

Can Someone Try And Get An Expungement On Their Own?

There is no reason to try to have the expungement completed on your own unless you really can’t afford an attorney. It is critical to make sure that the information is accurate; and certainly, if a court appearance is necessary, the likelihood of success by an attorney is greater than if the individual is appearing alone. However, if you cannot afford an attorney, then you should always try to get access to the public defender. There is no reason to represent yourself if you qualify for the public defender.

Additional Information Regarding Expungements In California

The sooner you try to expunge your record upon eligibility is better. The longer one waits, the more difficult it might become. However, there are some situations where an additional amount of time may be necessary to convince the court that you are eligible for an expungement. Such a situation would be in a domestic violence type case where probation may end at three years, but the court may still feel they want to wait a longer period of time before it grants the expungement. However, this doesn’t reduce the ability to re-file for an expungement.

There is no limit on the number of times one can request an expungement if it has been denied.

For more information on Misconceptions About Expungement, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (310) 277-1707 today.


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