Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly is an expungement?
The California legislature has drafted specific statutes allowing people convicted of certain crimes to have their records “expunged” after their case has been resolved. This law allows our attorneys to file a petition with the court requesting that the court withdraw your finding of guilt, enter a plea of not guilty and have your case dismissed.
Do I need to hire an attorney?
There are several important reasons to have an attorney working for you as you make the commitment to clear your criminal record. First, you want to make sure that your petition is done right the first time so it does not get rejected and cost you months of delay and hundreds of dollars in extra filing fees. Second, you need an attorney on your side to handle any objections from the district attorney. Third, you need an attorney who is able to go to court to argue your case if necessary. Finally, attorneys can be helpful by writing letters to potential employers and explaining to them that your case has been reopened and that you will soon have the conviction off of your record.
Do I have to go to court?
No, we will send one of our attorneys on your behalf. If the judge requests your presence, which is rare, we will request that your attendance be excused.
What will show up when someone does a background check?
The most common background check is a standard commercial background check. When this type of check is performed any expunged conviction or case will not appear. If the employer requires you to submit fingerprints and provide a copy of your CA Dept. of Justice report or submit to a LiveScan, the report will show that there was a case, but it was dismissed and there was no conviction or finding of guilt.
What if I do not know exactly what is on my records?
Our attorneys would be happy to provide you with a Record Analysis Report that would detail every entry on your record and outline every available record clearing service that would benefit you. The cost of the Record Analysis Report ($100) is then applied to any service that you decide to pursue.
How much does it cost?
All prices are a flat fee and contain no hidden fees. We also offer convenient payment plans to help you get the legal assistance you need. View Pricing Chart
What kind of criminal convictions can be expunged?
Almost all misdemeanors can be expunged and most felonies can be expunged provided that the Defendant has not served time in state or federal prison. Serving time in county jail will not necessarily disqualify you from a successful expungement.
How does the court decide whether or not grant the expungement?
The court will review your arrest record and the District Attorney will have the right to oppose our petition regarding your case. If you have completed your probation in a satisfactory manner, have not committed any new offenses, and paid all of your fines, the chances of winning your case are extremely high.
Who can see my criminal record?
Criminal records are public records so anyone who wants to access your record may do so. Usually this is done through a commercial background check agency.
If I currently have a felony on my record and I get my case reduced to a misdemeanor, will I have the right to own or possess a firearm?
Yes, as soon as your motion is granted and you are no longer considered a felon you will have your gun ownership rights restored.
Do I ever have to disclose my conviction once it has been expunged?
The only time you will have to disclose your expungement is in three circumstances: contracting with the CA State Lottery Commission, applying for public office, or when applying for a state license.
If I am not a U.S. citizen, can I obtain expungement? If so, will that aid me from being ultimately deported?
Yes this service is available to all people who have been prosecuted under California law. Depending on the crime and circumstances surrounding your crime, obtaining an expungement could definitely help you. Having a clean criminal record is always beneficial.
Does the process erase all records and destroy the court file?
Obtaining an expungement will change the disposition of the case to reflect a dismissal under 1203.4 of the Penal Code. This change will be reflected in the court file. The California Department of Justice and the FBI will then update their files to reflect a new plea of “not guilty” being entered and that the case has been ordered dismissed by the court. However, general commercial background searches, like most private employers conduct, will show no criminal record.
What if I have multiple cases?
That is not a problem. We can help you clear all of your convictions off of your record so long as you meet the necessary criteria. However, expungements can only be obtained on a per case basis so we will have to petition each case individually. But if you sign up for multiple cases we will discount each additional case.
Can I become a police officer?
In order to become a police officer you must reduce your felony to a misdemeanor and then have the misdemeanor expunged. To determine if your felony is eligible to be reduced please call our office and provide us with the Penal Code section number and the year of the conviction.
How do I keep track of what is going on with my case?
We have a secure client log in system that you may access once you become a client. You will be issued a username and password that will allow you to log on and see the progress on your case. We will also notify you via email every time your client file is updated in our system. From the online access system you will also be able to view your payment history and any outstanding balance.
What are the details of the guarantee?
Please click here to see our pricing sheet and the terms of the guarantee. View Pricing Chart
Do you have payment plans?
Yes! We have several convenient payment plans. Please click here to see our pricing sheet and payment plans. View Pricing Chart
What are the main reasons an expugement gets denied?
If an expungement is denied, it is usually for one of several reasons: an inaccuracy in the court file, an inaccuracy in the application, the court does not believe it will be in the interest of society, violation of probation, or not paying fines. However, you greatly lower your chances of denial by hiring an attorney to prepare, review and submit your record clearing petition.
What if my case gets denied?
If your case is denied, our attorneys will evaluate the purpose for the denial and determine the best way to proceed. If our attorneys determine that refiling is the best course of action then we will do so at no extra cost to you. If not, then you will receive your money back through our money back guarantee View Pricing Chart
Will an expungement relieve me of the requirement to register as a sex offender?
No, an expungement will not relieve you of the requirement to register as a sex offender. To obtain relief you will need to obtain a certification of rehabilitation, which is a service our attorneys offer. Please see our information page on certificates of rehabilitation or contact our office to speak with an attorney about obtaining a certification of rehabilitation.
What happens after my conviction is expunged?
After the expungement is complete the court will change the disposition of the case to reflect a dismissal under 1203.4 of the Penal Code. The California Department of Justice and the FBI will then update their files to reflect a new plea of “not guilty” being entered and that the case has been ordered dismissed by the court. However, general commercial background searches, like most private employers conduct, will show no criminal record. At this point our office will send you a court order signed by a judge indicating that your record was expunged.
How do the background check agencies and companies know my expungement was granted?
The judge’s signed order will be sent to the Department of Justice so they may update their records. All background check companies and agencies get their criminal history information from the court or Department of Justice.
How long does it take for the records to be updated?
The court will usually update their records within 48 hours and the Dept. of Justice will update its file within 30 days.
Will this help with my immigration application?
Yes. You will always have a better chance for a favorable immigration application if you have a clean criminal background.
If I was convicted of a violent misdemeanor can I have my right to possess a firearm restored?
In California there are certain violent misdemeanors that require the State of California to take away your right to possess a firearm for ten years. The ten-year ban begins on the date of your conviction and obtaining an expungement does not restore this right. You must wait until the 10-year ban is over to have your rights restored. Additionally, there is a lifetime prohibition on firearm ownership for those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence as defined by federal law. See The Lautenberg Amendment to the Violence Against Women Act (provide links to both documents).
Will expungement remove a strike for purposes of California’s Three Strikes Law?
Having your record expunged will not remove a strike from your record, but having your conviction reduced to a misdemeanor prior to expungement may reduce the severity of a future sentence if you were to be convicted again.
How soon can I apply to have my probation terminated early?
You can apply at any time, but to give yourself the greatest chance at success we suggest that you wait until you have completed half to two thirds of your probation. The earlier it is, the better the reason you will need to convince the judge to end probation early.
What factors does the court consider in granting early probation terminations?
The court will consider how serious the conviction was, if all other conditions of the probation have been complied with, and the court will hear any persuasive arguments in favor of the probation being terminated (such as to obtain a job or promotion).
If I get my probation terminated early, can I then expunge my record?
Yes! As soon as your probation is terminated we can petition the court to have your conviction expunged.
What are the benefits of early probation termination?
It will allow you to expunge your criminal record immediately, it will relieve you of the danger of a probation violation, and restore all of the rights you lose while you are on probation.
What is a “wobbler”?
A wobbler is an offense that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. The list of wobblers is too extensive to include here but the following penal codes are examples of crimes that are considered wobblers.
- Penal Code 459 PC California’s burglary law.
- Penal Code 245(a)(1) PC California’s “assault with a deadly weapon” (ADW) law.
- Penal Code 422 PC California’s criminal threats law.
- Penal Code 273.5 PC California’s spousal battery law.
- California sex crimes (Penal Code 243.4 PC sexual battery and Penal Code 288 PC lewd acts with a minor).
- Most California fraud charges.
What does the court consider when deciding to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor?
The court will consider all relevant facts that pertain to your individual case. These include the facts of your case including your original charge, your criminal history, your compliance with your probation, and any personal history that may be relevant including job promotion, starting a family, completing an educational program, etc.
How long do I have to have my arrest record sealed?
Our attorneys can petition to have your arrest records cleared up to two years after the date of your arrest or the filing of the accusatory pleading, whichever is later. However, if two years has passed then our attorneys can petition the judge to exercise their discretion to hear your case beyond the time limit based on good cause.
Am I eligible to have my juvenile records sealed?
In some cases your juvenile records are not automatically sealed. If you find that your juvenile record has not been sealed, our attorneys can evaluate your case and determine if you can petition to have your records sealed. In order to be eligible for juvenile record sealing, you must have reached the age of 18 or it must have been 5 years since the jurisdiction of the juvenile court has terminated. If you meet these criteria our attorneys can petition the court for an order to seal your juvenile court records, including records of arrest relating to your case in the custody of the juvenile court and probation officer and any other agencies, including law enforcement agencies and public officials. The law requires that since the termination of jurisdiction you have not been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude and that you have been rehabilitated to the satisfaction of the court.
What is a crime of moral turpitude?
A crime of moral turpitude is a crime that is said to reflect poorly on your morals and character, such as fraud, grand theft, sex and drug related crimes.
What do I say if I am asked about my juvenile record?
Once your juvenile record has been sealed, you can safely say that you have no juvenile record.
What happens to my records once they are sealed?
Once the records are ordered sealed, each agency in possession of such information must seal their information. The records are maintained “sealed” until the person who is the subject of the proceedings reaches the age of thirty-eight (38) at that time, they must be destroyed, unless the court determined at the time of the order for sealing that the records must be retained.
What is a Certificate of Rehabilitation?
A certificate of rehabilitation is a court order declaring that a defendant previously convicted of a felony or misdemeanor sex offense in California has now been rehabilitated. It is the first step to getting a full pardon. Once the court grants a certificate of rehabilitation, the court automatically sends the signed order of the certificate to the governor of California where it becomes an application for a pardon. The certificate of rehabilitation is the trial court’s request that the person be pardoned, however, the governor decides whether or not to grant the pardon.
Am I eligible to Apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation?
You may apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation if you have been convicted of a felony or convicted of a misdemeanor sex offense under Section 290 of the California Penal Code. Additionally, the conviction must have occurred in California, any convictions that can be expunged have been expunged, the individual has lived in California for five years, and the individual has not been incarcerated for any reason since the release or expungements of his/her conviction(s). You are not eligible for a certificate of rehabilitation if your conviction was a misdemeanor not listed in Penal Code 290, you were convicted of a sex crime from Penal Code 286(c), 288, 288a(c), 288.5, or 289(j), you received a life sentence, or you are in the military.
Will a Certificate of Rehabilitation eliminate your requirement to register as a Sex Offender under Penal Code 290?
Yes, obtaining certificate of rehabilitation will terminate your requirement to register as a sex offender under California Penal Code 290.
How does the Application Process Work?
If you are eligible to apply for a certificate of rehabilitation, we will correspond with you to get all of your information. Then, we will draft and file a petition, which includes all forms and other necessary documents with the appropriate California Superior Court. Next, our attorneys will serve a copy to the district attorney where the crime occurred, in the county where you currently reside, and where we are filing the petition. The district attorney and probation department will then conduct a background check on you and file their opposition. Next, we will call the district attorney to get their position on the case. Then, one of our attorneys will appear at a hearing that will take place in court and argue all evidence in your favor. The judge will consider all of the evidence and all the reasons for and against granting the certificate of rehabilitation. If the petition is granted, the court will immediately forward the certificate to the California Governor, where it becomes an application for a pardon.