About eight million people in California have a criminal record. A criminal record can make specific aspects of life harder, like finding a job, keeping custody of your children or applying for a credit card or loan. Many people assume that people with a criminal record have committed a serious crime like robbery, sexual assault, battery, etc. However, not all cases are as serious.
People make mistakes, but that does not mean you have to live with a conviction in your record for the rest of your life. Instead, they can be expunged. But how do you do that? In this guide, we go over expunging a felony in California.
What is an expungement?
An expungement occurs when the court legally seals or erases a case of an arrest or criminal conviction. This process is also known as expunction or setting aside a criminal conviction. Having a conviction expunged means that when someone does a background check for a job or credit card, your arrest will not show up in the system.
However, expunging your conviction does not remove it from everything. Certain agencies like the government or law enforcement still have access to your file, and it will show up on your records. For example, if you have a future conviction, your expungement can work as proof against your case.
Each state has different rules and requirements for expungement. Before going through the process, make sure to work with a reliable and knowledgeable attorney.
Who is Eligible for Getting a Felony Expunged?
If you want your conviction expunged, you must first be eligible. People eligible for expungement under the California Penal Code 1203.4 have not committed a felony or misdemeanor, have not served time in a California state prison, have fulfilled the terms of their probation and did not commit a crime that would make them ineligible for a California expungement. The best way to know if your case is eligible for expungement is to work with an attorney.
If you do get your case expunged, it can typically take 90-120 days. However, some courts and older cases can take longer. The time can extend depending on when you filed your expungement, if your name has been entered into the court’s computer system and other factors like the pandemic slowing down court hearings.
What do You Need to Get an Expungement Ready?
To get your case ready for expungement, you first need to familiarize yourself with your conviction. Compile all the relevant information like why it happened, who convicted you, where the arrest happened and any documents you had to fill out or provide. Get multiple copies of your criminal record.
Once you have all this information plus copies of your criminal record, find legal counsel. A law firm will know all the proper information and legal steps to get an expunged conviction. They can also help you find all the documents you need to fill out before filing your expungement.
After filling out the documents, file your paperwork with the court. During this process, make sure you have enough money to pay your attorney and file for the expungement. The expungement filing fee varies per county. On average, people spend about $100 to $300 to file their case into the system. Make sure your lawyer lays out all the costs before you hire the firm. If you worry about finances, many offices have payment plans.
After filing, you have to wait for the court hearing. Depending on the type of case you have, your attorney can represent you instead of you showing up in person. However, only take this route for small cases like DUIs. If you want or need to go to the hearing, you will spend days or weeks preparing for your case.
On the day of your hearing, your attorney will walk you through the process and do most of the talking in court. By the end of the hearing, the judge will either accept or deny your petition.
How do I Find the Best Lawyer for My Case?
Your best solution for getting your case expunged is to find a lawyer to represent you. The first step in finding the right representation is to search for the best law services in your area. Then, you can narrow down the search by picking offices that have experience with your type of conviction as well as expungements. Once you have a list, then schedule a consultation with each practice to see which one fits your needs. If you need help getting your felony expunged in or around Long Beach or Orange County, contact The Law Offices of Grant Bettencourt.