Having a criminal record is frustrating and significantly impacts various aspects of your day-to-day life. It can hinder employment opportunities, limit housing options, and even affect your overall quality of life. However, there is a legal remedy available for many individuals – the process of expungement. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what expungement is, who is eligible for it, and the types of crimes that can be expunged. We will also cover the steps involved in filing for expungement.
What is an Expungement?
Expungement is a legal process that enables previously convicted individuals to clear their criminal records. Essentially, it provides an opportunity for those with past convictions to start afresh and move beyond the limitations imposed by a criminal record. Even though expungement doesn’t necessarily mean the conviction is entirely erased, it does provide a level of relief. This is because the record will become less accessible to the public.
Who is Eligible for an Expungement?
Not everyone with a criminal record is automatically eligible for expungement. Eligibility criteria often depend on various factors, including the nature of the offense, completion of probation or sentence, and compliance with court-ordered requirements. In California, individuals eligible for expungement are;
- Those who have successfully completed probation
- Have met all court-ordered obligations
- Are not facing new criminal charges
What Crimes are Eligible?
The types of crimes that can be expunged are generally misdemeanors or certain lower-level felonies. Expungement is not typically available for severe or violent felonies. Examples of crimes that may be eligible for expungement include;
- Misdemeanors: Misdemeanors, often considered less severe offenses, are generally more likely to be eligible for expungement. These may include offenses like shoplifting or disorderly conduct.
- Non-violent felonies: Some non-violent felonies may also be eligible for expungement. These offenses are typically less serious than their violent counterparts. Examples include certain drug offenses, white-collar crimes, or property crimes. However, the eligibility criteria may vary, and it is essential to consult with our legal professionals at Kosnett Law Firm to determine if a specific non-violent felony qualifies for expungement.
- DUIs: Even though DUIs are serious, they may be eligible for expungement under certain circumstances. Successful completion of probation, adherence to court-ordered requirements, and compliance with other conditions are crucial factors influencing eligibility.
- Certain drug offenses: Some drug offenses, like those involving possession of small amounts for personal use, may be eligible for expungement. Changes in drug laws and a growing recognition of the importance of rehabilitation over punishment have contributed to increased opportunities for expunging some drug-related convictions.
- Juvenile offenses: In many cases, juvenile offenses are eligible for expungement once the individual reaches a certain age and completes the required rehabilitation programs.
When Can I Get My Records Expunged?
The time when one is eligible for expungement varies depending on the nature of the offense and the completion of court-ordered requirements. In many cases, individuals must complete probation successfully before becoming eligible for expungement. However, some convictions may be expunged even if probation is not granted. It is essential to understand the specific conditions that apply to your case and consult with our knowledgeable attorneys to determine the optimal time to pursue expungement.
The Process of Filing for an Expungement
So, how can you file for expungement? Here are the steps to follow;
Step i: Consultation with an Attorney
The first step in the expungement process is to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney at Kosnett Law Firm. We will assess your eligibility and provide guidance on the best course of action.
Step ii: Petition for Expungement
If eligible, the next step involves filing a petition for expungement with the court. The petition outlines the reasons for seeking expungement and any supporting evidence demonstrating rehabilitation.
Step iii: Notification to the Prosecutor
In some cases, the prosecutor may be notified of the expungement petition. This gives them an opportunity to review the request and provide input to the court. A comprehensive assessment will also be done to establish credibility.
Step iv: Court Hearing
A court hearing may be scheduled depending on the circumstances. During the hearing, the judge will consider the petition, any objections raised by the prosecutor, and your overall conduct since the conviction. An appropriate decision will then be made.
Get the Legal Help You Need Today
At Kosnett Law Firm, we specialize in criminal defense and expungement cases. Our experienced team is dedicated to helping individuals navigate the legal system and achieve the best possible outcome for their unique situations. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards a brighter, more secure future.