If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor offense under California state law, you may have the right to expunge your conviction from your record under Penal Code 1203.4. This process can give you peace of mind, as your personal and professional life will no longer be held back significantly by the stigma of a criminal past.
If you are unsure about whether you can expunge your California misdemeanor conviction, turn to the Oakland misdemeanor expungement attorneys of Lamano Law Office. Our compassionate, knowledgeable approach to legal representation can guide you through the expungement process in a grounded, focused, and low-stress manner. Reach out to our team today to schedule a risk-free, confidential consultation. Our reputable legal team can advise you about how you can clear your conviction so that you can move forward with your life more fully.
What Misdemeanors Can Be Expunged in California?
Under California Penal Code 1203.4, many kinds of convictions can be expunged as long as the sentence didn’t involve time served in state prison. In California, misdemeanors have a maximum penalty of 364 days in county jail, so most misdemeanor offenses are eligible for expungement. Examples of misdemeanor crimes that are commonly expunged include:
- Disorderly conduct
- Solicitation of prostitution
- Public drunkenness
- Receiving stolen property
- Reckless driving
- Misdemeanor DUI
- Driving on a suspended license
- Simple drug possession
Certain misdemeanor offenses, especially sex offenses involving children, are ineligible for expungement in California. Additionally, both federal misdemeanors and federal felonies cannot be expunged under state law. If you’ve been convicted of a federal offense, our attorneys can evaluate your eligibility for the federal expungement process.
Learn How to Expunge a Felony in California here
What Is the California Expungement Process?
In California, the expungement process reverses or vacates a criminal conviction, and the criminal charge is dismissed “in the interest of justice.” If you pleaded guilty or no contest to your charge, expungement allows you to withdraw your plea and enter a plea of not guilty. After that, the trial court can dismiss your charge. If you were convicted by a guilty verdict, the trial court will set aside the verdict, vacate your conviction, and dismiss your charge during the expungement process.
You may be eligible to apply for expungement if:
- You were not ordered to serve a term in state prison, or your state prison term could have been served in county jail pursuant to “realignment”
- You successfully completed probation, if you were sentenced to probation
- You have fulfilled all other terms of your sentence, including payment of fines and restitution, completion of community service, and attending education classes or behavioral/substance abuse treatment programs
- You are not facing criminal charges and are not currently serving another term of probation or incarceration
The California expungement process involves several steps. Our reputable and efficient legal team can help you to navigate these steps while treating you and your case with the respect each deserves. If you’re eligible to petition for expungement, our team will move forward by:
- Collecting records pertaining to your conviction, including arrest and police records and the record of the court proceedings concerning your misdemeanor charge.
- Confirming your eligibility for expungement. If you are currently serving probation per your conviction, our firm will need to successfully move for early termination of your probation before filing an expungement petition.
- Preparing the formal petition for expungement. Many courts have specific forms that can be used to petition for expungement, or we can prepare a written petition on your behalf.
- Filing your petition in the court where you were convicted. The district or city attorney must be provided with notice of your petition and the opportunity to file an objection.
- Ensuring that a hearing on your petition is scheduled without undue delay. At the hearing, the court will consider your petition, any objections made by the district or city attorney’s office, and our firm’s arguments in support of granting the petition.
If the court grants your petition, you will receive an order of expungement. If your petition is denied, the court will explain the reasons for the denial. If you have already petitioned for expungement and your request was denied for reasons other than insufficient eligibility, our firm can correct any deficiencies in your petition and refile after six months have passed since the date your petition was originally denied.
How Long Do I Have to Wait to Start the Expungement Process?
You can file for expungement of a misdemeanor conviction as soon as you have completed any term of probation connected to your sentence. If you are still serving probation, you have the option of filing a motion with the court for early termination of your probation. You must show the court that your probation is preventing you from being a productive member of society.
Generally, the courts like to see you complete at least half of your probation period. So, if your probation was for 3-years, the court will likely want to see you complete at least a year and a half. If the court grants early termination, you can immediately apply for expungement. Often both motions are filed at the same time (the motion to end probation early and the motion to expunge your record).
What Paperwork Do I Need to File for Expungement?
To file a petition for expungement in California, you will need to collect various documents to submit with your application. These documents include:
- Your arrest record from the charge you are seeking to expunge
- The police report
- Court records from the proceedings that led to your conviction
Police records can be obtained from the law enforcement agency that arrested you, while court records can be obtained from the court clerk at the courthouse where your case was heard. If you work with our firm, we can collect these documents on your behalf.
Is It Worth Time and Effort to Expunge a Misdemeanor Criminal Record?
Having a criminal record, even if it only features a single misdemeanor conviction, can significantly impact the rest of your life. You may find it harder to obtain housing, employment, or other services and benefits. It is always worth an individual’s time and effort to expunge a misdemeanor criminal record if they are eligible to do. If you can successfully expunge your record, this effort will:
- Allow you to answer the question “have you ever been convicted of a crime” on an application with “yes, but the charges were dismissed in the interest of justice” versus merely saying yes without any explanation
- Make it more likely that your applications for employment, housing, educational opportunity, or professional licensure will be considered and/or accepted
- Prevent the matter from being used to impeach your testimony in future court proceedings (except in criminal prosecutions against you)
Note that expungement does not delete or destroy the arrest record of your misdemeanor charge. The Department of Justice will still have a record of your charge, although it will show that the charge was dismissed. If you want to avoid having others know that you were arrested and charged with a misdemeanor, you will need to petition the court to seal your arrest record.
Expungement also will not relieve you from other collateral consequences that may have been imposed upon you due to your misdemeanor conviction, including a suspension or revocation of your driver’s license or a requirement to register as a sex offender.
What Is the Difference Between a Governor’s Pardon and Expungement?
While expungement can clear a misdemeanor conviction off your record, it cannot restore all of your rights to you. One option that would allow you to regain all of our rights after a misdemeanor conviction is to seek a California governor’s pardon.
A governor’s pardon relieves someone convicted of a misdemeanor of many collateral consequences of their conviction. However, a governor’s pardon also differs from expungement in that, while expungement is commonly granted for misdemeanor convictions, a pardon is much less frequently granted. Pardons are only granted in cases where an individual demonstrates an exceptional level of rehabilitation following their conviction.
What Is a California Rehabilitation Certificate?
Certificates of rehabilitation offer another avenue of post-conviction relief. A certificate of rehabilitation is a court order which states that a person has been rehabilitated and is now a law-abiding citizen. Employers, landlords, and state licensing agencies may look more favorably upon an applicant who has obtained a certificate of rehabilitation. The certificate also acts as an automatic application and recommendation for a governor’s pardon.
Why You Need an Expungement Lawyer to Help Clean Up Your Misdemeanor Record
Obtaining expungement of a misdemeanor conviction is not a guaranteed process. Eligibility for expungement is limited and any errors or omissions on your petition for expungement may lead to the court denying your application. Let an Oakland misdemeanor expungement lawyer from Lamano Law Office give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your petition is being managed by capable hands. Our firm will take care of all the details of pursuing expungement on your behalf, including:
- Collecting your records including police reports, trial records, and court minute orders from your case
- Evaluating your eligibility for expungement
- Managing any obstacles to your petition for expungement, including proof that you have paid all fines and restitution or filing a motion for early termination of your probation
- Preparing and filing your expungement petition
- Appearing on your behalf in court and advocating in favor of your petition
Start Fresh Now. Seek Personalized Guidance from a Trusted Oakland Misdemeanor Expungement Lawyer Today
Don’t wait another day to ask whether you are eligible to wipe your slate clean. Contact Lamano Law Office today to schedule a risk-free case review. Once you discuss your legal options with a caring Oakland misdemeanor expungement lawyer at our offices, you’ll be empowered to make truly informed decisions about your legal situation moving forward.