If you have had a criminal conviction it will stay on your permanent record. An expungement is a legal method that can be used to alter your criminal conviction from your record. An expungement will legally dismiss a criminal conviction including:
- Guilty plea
- No-contest plea
- Guilty judgment (by judge or jury)
When an expungement occurs, the record of arrest, prosecution, and conviction records are still on file, however, there is a special notation that the conviction was dismissed. The files kept by the FBI and California Department of Justice are changed to show that the result was not guilty and the case was dismissed. An expungement does not destroy your criminal record or seal it from view.
A criminal record can be harmful to you for many years. It will often keep you from getting a job, getting credit, renting an apartment, getting some types of licenses, voting, and running for political office. Your criminal record will certainly be exposed whenever a background check is completed on you. When the record is expunged, your public record will not show the conviction.
There are many advantages to having your record expunged including the ability to apply for credit, being eligible for employment, voting, and running for office. When answering the question as to whether you have been convicted of a crime, you can answer no. You’ll also have peace of mind that your background won’t be exposed.
Not all criminal convictions can be expunged. Many misdemeanors and some felony offenses may qualify for expungement. There are some eligibility requirements that must be met before an expungement can be considered. These include:
- Satisfactorily completed probation (if no probation was granted at least one year must pass after the judgment date)
- Court orders must be followed
- There must be no offenses since this one
- Must show that you are leading an honest lifestyle
- Some other conditions may apply
Contact a criminal attorney to determine if you are eligible for an expungement. If so, your attorney will file a petition to expunge your record, called an “Adult Record Clearance Application”. The form requests a reversal of a guilty plea or to set aside a verdict of guilty. If approved, your charges will be dismissed and your record will be expunged.