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What is Expungement and Can I Clear My Criminal Record?

Expungement is the process of having an arrest, conviction, and other related records sealed so that they aren’t available to the general public. Most states, including California, have taken measures that allow people to have certain records expunged. The reason for this is that it makes it impossible for people who may be conducting a background check, such as potential employers or landlords, to learn about a mistake that ended in a criminal record.

The best thing about having your California criminal record expunged is that when you’re asked if you have a criminal record, you can honestly reply that you don’t.

You’ll be surprised by the number of crimes you can have expunged in California. The state currently allows for the expungement of most misdemeanors.

For a charge to be expunged, you must show the following:
You may be eligible to apply for expungement if:

  • You didn’t serve any time in a California state prison as a result of these particular charges.
  • That you not only went through the probation process but that you successfully completed it
  • That all, community service required education classes, and substance abuse treatment programs that were a part of your sentence have been completed.
  • That you’ve paid all the fines, fees, and connected restitution associated with the sentence

It’s important to note that when you apply to have your history expunged, you can’t be currently facing any criminal charges or be in the middle of completing the sentencing/probation for another case. Expungement will not be granted if you’re currently incarcerated.

While you can have your criminal history expunged, there are a few things you can’t do, which include the following:

  • Have a driver’s license revocation overturned
  • Be removed from a sex offenders list
  • Use the expungement to get out of sentence enhancements that are connected to California’s three-strikes system
  • Have lost gun ownership rights restored

You don’t have to wait long to have a conviction expunged from your record. You’re allowed to put in a request for the expungement as soon as you’ve completed all of the sentencing requirements. Once the request is put in, the process of removing it usually doesn’t take long. The average expungement request is granted within one to two months.

Requesting an expungement isn’t cheap. In California, the overall cost ranges from $100-$400. The cost will increase if you seek the assistance of a lawyer. You can petition for an expungement at the California courthouse that handled your case.