Expungement is a legal process by which prior criminal convictions are cleared from one’s criminal record. The motivation for expunging past convictions is removing the kind of barriers a negative criminal history places before many educational and employment opportunities. Many schools and employers will decline to admit or hire an individual with a criminal record, especially if it contains felony convictions. Fortunately, the law has put in place a mechanism, albeit subject to a number of requirements, for clearing one’s criminal record: expungement. Individuals interested in expunging criminal convictions from their record for the sake of the better future that education and employment brings will benefit from speaking with an experienced California expungement attorney about their specific circumstances.
Understanding the Requirements for Expungement in California
In California, expungement is governed by Penal Code 1203.4. The ability of this process to clear one’s criminal record of prior convictions seems almost too good to be true. Though expungement is a real legal process that has helped many individuals on the way to obtaining the educational and employment opportunities they need for a better future, there are a number of important requirements that must be understood. First, expungement is not available to individuals who were sent to state prison following conviction, or later as the result of a probation violation. Expungement, whether for a misdemeanor and felony conviction, is only available to individuals who were not sent to state prison, who successfully completed probation, and were not convicted of one of four enumerated crimes that shall never be expunged. To successfully complete probation is to abide by and complete all terms of probation, including fines, counseling, community service, and any other restitution ordered by the court. Additional, successful completion of probation requires the attendance of all required court appearances, either personally or through one’s attorney. Finally, as common sense dictates, successful probation requires that one does not commit any new crimes while on probation.