First-time offenders are often put in the most difficult situations in the legal system. One-time offenses may not be penalized by extensive jail time or probation, but having a crime on your record can be very detrimental in seeking employment and continuing on with your life upon completion of your sentence.
In these cases, expungement is the preferable solution to an unclean record. An “expungement” proceeding describes a lawsuit filed by an offender seeking that the records of their prior crimes be sealed, making your conviction unavailable through public record in state or federal filing. This means your prior conviction is not viewable by background checks.
You may be eligible for an expungement in California under the following circumstances:
- You have completed your probation and the terms of your sentence, and
- You are not currently on probation, serving a sentence or being charged with a criminal offense.
CRIMES NOT ELIGIBLE FOR EXPUNGEMENT
Crimes that resulted in a sentence to state prison are not eligible for expungement. Further, specific crimes committed are deemed too serious to be considered for expungement as well, including sex crimes against children.
If you violated your probation after the conviction in question, you may not be eligible for expungement, but freedom is worth the fight. In many cases, you will be able to appeal to the court to be considered for expungement even if you are not explicitly eligible.
Factors considered if you have violated your probation and are appealing for expungement include the following:
- The severity of your conviction and seriousness of the crime
- Evidence demonstrating that you deserve consideration for expungement, including an opportunity to earn employment, financial dependents including a family, strong community ties, stewardship, etc.
There are a few steps you will take with our team in filing for expungement. Our team will examine your case, and together we will work to file with your success in mind. The initial process in an expungement case includes the following steps:
- Once determined, we will work to form our case in your defense, examining current law and preparing a plan for the proceedings.
- We support you in the court proceedings by taking the reigns in the courtroom and representing you based on our experience, research and planning.
As you can see, you will be involved in the details of your proceeding; we just want to help you earn the best results possible.
BENEFITS OF EXPUNGEMENT
Having your record expunged may have a tremendous impact on your life, giving you the freedom to venture into the professional world and apply for government-issued documents without fear of your past creeping in. Some of the benefits our clients have seen from expungement include:
- Securing employment: clearing your record or your charges protects you from discrimination by future employers, ensuring you are not inquired about an arrest not resulting in conviction or discriminated against for expunged convictions. You are protected by California law from this type of employment discrimination.
- Education & licensure: you will no longer be barred from obtaining a state professional license and can pursue trades and higher education without your record stopping you.
- Immigration: it is possible that your expungement can help you avoid deportation or other consequences involving immigration.
FELONIES REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR
Often, it is in your favor to have a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor prior to your expungement proceeding. It is much more likely to have a misdemeanor expunged than a felony, and in the event that your expungement is denied, you will not have to worry about a felony on your record any longer.
Felonies that are eligible for reduction must be categorized as “wobblers”, or crimes in which the circumstances surrounding the case contribute to whether it is charged as a felony or misdemeanor. When your case could go either way, it is often worth reviewing the case to try to have charges reduced.
The court will consider reducing a felony to a misdemeanor under the following circumstances:
- The punishment for the crime was not a sentence in state prison
- In a juvenile crime, either commitment to or release from the Youth Authority
- Probation was received, completed or terminated early
EARLY TERMINATION OF PROBATION
If you are currently on probation and are seeking expungement, it is possible to appeal for early termination of your probation and go through with your expungement proceedings without waiting out the entirety of your probation. You may be eligible for early termination if you meet the following requirements:
- You were charged in a state, not federal, court
- You are currently on probation. It is in your favor that you have completed at least half of the term, but not always necessary. Our team can help you determine what your best decision is based on the details of your case.
- You have already met the requirements of your sentence, including fines, community service, classes, etc.
- You are not being charged with, on probation for or serving a sentence for another crime.
If you or a loved one is considering having your record expunged, trust a team who cares to represent you through the proceedings. We at The Law Offices of Alisha A. Wood are experienced and knowledgeable in expungement cases and will do what it takes to get you the best possible results in your situation. Feel free to call our offices to learn more about how we can help or to ask any questions about the details of an expungement case. We would love to help you any way we can.
- THE PROCESS
- THE BENEFITS
- REDUCING A CHARGE
- TERMINATING PROBATION
I was looking at some pretty serious charges for my DUI, my first and no previous record, with the wonderful staff here I felt I was in the best of hands. I was assured that they would do the very best for me that they could. They followed through, in a BIG way. Instead of jail and the intense DUI programs, I am able to continue working and have been able to keep bettering myself through the course of my DUI. They saved me, literally from losing everything.
POSTED BY KARI ON APR 9
SAN DIEGO, CA
This firm was recommended to be by an attorney friend of mine and I am glad he did. Alisha Wood was able to reduce my DUI case to a drunk in public!! Even if my case did not end as favorable as it did I would still be glad that I hired this firm. They were truly nice people, very helpful and I felt that my money was well spent. I would recommend to any of my friends.
POSTED BY ROB ON MAR 14
SAN DIEGO, CA
I didn't really know where to turn at first after my arrest, after have meeting with 4 other attorneys in the area I was referred to Alisha A. Wood by a co-worker, my case didn't look as though it would turn out very well. The firm displayed unparalleled knowledge and professionalism. Carmen, my case manager kept me completely informed and no matter who I talked to in the firm they were knowledgeable of my case I felt that they communicate well and worked very hard to get my more favorable outcome than I had thought for my case. Overall they're awesome!
POSTED BY MARSHALL ON AUG 25
SAN DIEGO, CA