San Diego Expungement Lawyer

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Getting an Expungement

In California, most convictions can be expunged from your record. An expungement is technically your plea of guilty being withdrawn and the case being dismissed. It is a legal fiction that it never happened.

This means on job applications and other forms that are not government forms, when asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you have the legal right to say, “No.”

An experienced lawyer will follow a three-step process in preparing to get you an expungement.

Step One – Is the Charge Expungable?

While most crimes in California can be expunged, not all can be. Your lawyer will first have to determine if the crime you plead guilty to can be expunged. If it cannot, not all hope is lost. In some instances, your lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor to agree to a motion to withdraw the plea and let your plea to a different charge that can be expunged.

Step Two – Felony Reduced to a Misdemeanor

If you have a felony record, before seeking an expungement, your lawyer should first seek to have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor. Many crimes in California are referred to as “wobblers.” That means they can either be a felony, punishable by prison, or a misdemeanor, punishable by jail time. Reducing a felony to a misdemeanor can be done at any time but should definitely be done before having your record expunged. To do this requires a motion pursuant to Penal Code 17(b) and can be done in connection with an expungement.

Step Three – Is Probation Over?

For charges that can be expunged, probation must be over before your record can be expunged. For that to be true, either the time period for the probation has to have passed, 5 years for DUI’s and 3 years for most other crimes, or the Court has to terminate probation early. To have probation terminated early requires another motion pursuant to Penal Code section 1203.

Getting Your Expungement

Once your lawyer has ensured your conviction can be expunged, gotten the felony reduced to a misdemeanor if necessary and probation is over, perhaps terminated early, then it is time to seek an expungement. An experienced lawyer may try and accomplish all of these things at one hearing. The key is showing the Judge that you have been reformed and that it is in the interests of justice to grant your motions.

It is important to know the prosecution can oppose these motions. So, you need an experienced lawyer to maximize your chance of success and clearing up your criminal record.