EXPUNGEMENT ATTORNEY ORANGE COUNTY CA
Having a criminal conviction on your record can have an adverse effect on your life for years to come, even after you have served your jail sentence, paid the requisite fines and successfully completed probation. A criminal conviction can not only affect your ability to pursue higher education, it can also restrict your civil rights, affect your immigration status and bar you from certain employment and housing opportunities, and that is where our Orange County expungement attorneys come in. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to get your criminal conviction expunged, or dismissed, a legal process that can give individuals with a criminal past a fresh start. If you have been convicted of a crime in Orange County or the surrounding counties, and you believe you may be eligible for expungement, contact our skilled Orange County criminal defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group today to find out how to proceed.
Affordable Orange County Expungement Attorney
Having a criminal record can limit your ability to pursue a productive life in your community, possibly causing you to miss out on certain employment, education and housing opportunities, and restricting your ability to vote, possess a firearm, or access certain government benefits, among other consequences. Being convicted of a misdemeanor or felony crime in Orange County may seem like the end of the world, and it is true that a criminal conviction can be devastating for you and your loved ones, both personally and professionally, but you do still have options to move forward from your past mistake. By getting your conviction set aside and your criminal case dismissed, you can get a fresh start without facing the stigma of having a mark on your record. Even better, when you hire an attorney to handle your expungement, you typically don’t even have to appear in court; the expungement process usually allows a lawyer to appear on the applicant’s behalf. Consult our legal team today to discuss the possibility of getting your conviction expunged.
Expungement is a legal process by which individuals convicted of misdemeanor or felony offenses in Orange County can get their past criminal convictions dismissed, which releases them from virtually “all penalties and disabilities” associated with the conviction. An expungement does not completely wipe out a criminal conviction, but it does relieve you of the adverse consequences of a conviction and the social stigma typically associated with a criminal record. Before the court will grant an expungement, you or your attorney must obtain a copy of your criminal record from the California Department of Justice and submit that along with a Petition for Dismissal and an affidavit indicating the reasons you have for requesting an expungement.
Most misdemeanor and certain straight felony offenses are eligible for expungement under Orange County law. It is also possible to get a wobbler felony conviction expunged, but most people first petition the court to get the felony reduced to a misdemeanor prior to having it expunged, which expedites the process. Another reason for this is the fact that most individuals with expunged misdemeanor crimes are still permitted to possess a gun, while those with expunged felonies are not.
There are certain criminal offenses that are not, under any circumstances, eligible for expungement. These primarily include sex crimes committed against children, such as child molestation and statutory rape. If you are required to register as a sex offender as a result of your criminal conviction, an expungement cannot relieve you of this sex offender requirement. A Certification of Rehabilitation and a governor’s pardon sometimes can, but not for convictions involving sex crimes against children.
California Expungement Penal Code § 1203.4 PC
An expungement is a form of post-conviction relief governed by Penal Code § 1203.4 PC. Under this law, offenders convicted of eligible felony offenses and a majority of misdemeanor crimes may qualify for expungement. PC § 1203.4(a)(1) states the following:
In any case in which a defendant has fulfilled the conditions of probation for the entire period of probation, or has been discharged prior to the termination of the period of probation, or in any other case in which a court, in its discretion and the interests of justice, determines that a defendant should be granted the relief available under this section, the defendant shall, at any time after the termination of the period of probation, if he or she is not then serving a sentence for any offense, on probation for any offense, or charged with the commission of any offense, be permitted by the court to withdraw his or her plea of guilty or plea of nolo contendere and enter a plea of not guilty; or, if he or she has been convicted after a plea of not guilty, the court shall set aside the verdict of guilty; and, in either case, the court shall thereupon dismiss the accusations or information against the defendant and except as noted below, he or she shall thereafter be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which he or she has been convicted, except as provided in Section 13555 of the Vehicle Code.
Another expungement law in Orange County can be found under Penal Code Section § 851.91. Effective January 2018, this law provides that if you were arrested for a crime, but either the jury acquitted you, the criminal proceedings were dismissed, or the case was never prosecuted, you can petition the court to seal your arrest record, which means the arrest will not be visible to the public.
Who is Eligible for Expungement?
In order to be eligible for a conviction expungement in Orange County under PC § 1203.4, you must have been granted misdemeanor or felony probation as part of your criminal sentence, and you must have successfully completed the probation. To successfully “complete” probation means you satisfied the terms and conditions of your probation program, paid all necessary fines and restitution, completed any required community service or counseling programs, etc., attended all required court appearances and avoided committing any new crimes while on probation. Additionally, you only qualify for expungement in Orange County if:
- The conviction was not for certain violent crimes or sex crimes,
- You were not sentenced to prison for the crime, and
- You are not currently charged with, serving a sentence for, or on probation for any criminal offense.
Under Orange County law, you are not eligible for expungement if you served time in state prison for the crime. However, if you were sentenced to prison for a crime that would have been punishable by a county jail sentence had the crime been committed after Proposition 47 was passed, you may still be eligible for expungement pursuant to PC § 1203.42, though relief under this law is not automatic. In order to be considered for expungement under PC § 1203.42, you will have to petition the court, either in person, through an attorney or through your probation officer. If the court authorizes the expungement, you will be permitted to withdraw your plea of guilty or no contest and enter a plea of not guilty, or, if you were convicted after a plea of not guilty, the court will officially “set aside” the guilty verdict and dismiss the case. The California Department of Justice will also review and seal all past marijuana convictions that are no longer considered criminal offenses, now that recreational marijuana is legal in Orange County.
What are the Benefits of Expungement?
There are many benefits to getting your criminal conviction expunged, one of the most important being that you do not have to disclose an expunged conviction to most potential employers. Pursuant to California’s “ban the box” law in AB 1008, Orange County employers are prohibited from asking about a job applicant’s criminal background until there is a conditional offer of employment. This law was enacted to remove barriers to employment for individuals who have been convicted of a crime. However, if you get your conviction expunged, it does not have to be disclosed to an employer even after the employer makes a conditional offer of employment. What that means is, when applying for a new job, you can deny ever being charged with a crime, which can help you avoid being unfairly discriminated against for your criminal history.
While an expungement does not change the fact that you were convicted of a crime, it does result in a new entry in the court record indicating that your criminal case has been dismissed. By expunging your criminal conviction, the court is essentially setting aside a plea of guilty or no contest, entering a new plea of not guilty and dismissing the case, which means it will not be visible to the public. In addition to the employment benefit, having a clean criminal record may prove beneficial in other aspects of your life too, such as in securing or maintaining professional licensing or joining professional organizations, for example. Keep in mind that if you are applying for a government job or a job that requires security clearance or a government-issued license, you may be required to disclose the initial conviction and the expungement. It is also important to note that an expungement will still show up on any background check conducted by a potential employer or landlord, but this information cannot lawfully be used to deny you employment or housing.
California’s “Three Strikes” Sentencing Law
California’s “Three Strikes” sentencing law was created to establish harsher prison sentences for individuals with prior convictions for serious or violent felonies who are subsequently convicted of another felony. Under this law, if you have one prior strike offense on your record, you could face double the prison sentence otherwise required by law for a subsequent felony conviction, and if you have two “strike priors,” you could face an automatic prison sentence of 25 years to life. It is possible to get a strike offense expunged and the case dismissed, but only if you did not serve time in state prison for the crime, which is unlikely. And even if you are able to get the conviction expunged, it will still count as a strike prior with regard to enhanced sentencing for any subsequent serious or violent felony convictions.
How Hiring an Expungement Attorney Can Help
A criminal conviction can haunt you for the rest of your life, which is why it is imperative that you seek legal guidance from a knowledgeable and experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney to find out if you are eligible for expungement. For instance, even though PC § 1203.4 requires that the defendant successfully complete probation in order to qualify for expungement, even convicted offenders charged with a probation violation may be able to get their conviction expunged in certain cases. A skilled defense attorney can petition the court to consider an expungement, in which case the court will hold a special hearing to determine whether the defendant is a good candidate for expungement.
A criminal record is for life and if you are convicted of a criminal offense, unless you get the conviction expunged, it will always be a part of your criminal record. Even with an expungement, the conviction will remain on your record for many purposes, including for immigration consequences and sex offender registration, and the conviction and later dismissal will still show up on California and FBI criminal history records. Our attorneys at Seyb Law Group can help guide you through the complicated Orange County expungement process, by examining the facts of your case to determine whether you are eligible for expungement, researching expungement law and how it applies to your case, filing the appropriate paperwork, meeting important deadlines, and attending the expungement hearing in court.
Contact Our Experienced Expungement Attorneys Today
If you are convicted of a criminal offense in Orange County, depending on the nature of the crime, you may find it difficult to get a job, secure housing, or pursue higher education. If the conviction was for a felony offense, you could even suffer a lifetime ban on gun possession, which is a loss of your civil right. An expungement is one way our attorneys can help relieve you of the stigma and restrictions that typically accompany an Orange County conviction, especially a felony conviction, which can follow you for the rest of your life. By petitioning the court to set aside the criminal conviction and dismiss the case, you can finally get the fresh start you need to move forward with your life. Contact our Orange County criminal defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group today to find out how to begin the process of getting your conviction expunged.