If you’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony crime in the state of California, then you may want to look into the possibility of expungement or sealing of adult criminal records. In certain circumstances, you may very well be eligible for one of these options, either of which can benefit you in a number of ways if you have a criminal record.
Expungement vs. Sealing
Often times, people confuse expungement and record sealing for the same thing; in reality, they are very similar but still have some significant differences.
Specifically, when a criminal record is expunged, this means that you have a completely clean slate. The previous conviction(s) against you are essentially erased as if they never happened. Expungement can be completed after you’ve served your sentence. Record sealing, on the other hand, is only done for cases that were acquitted, dismissed, or in situations where the prosecution never filed charges. This essentially seals and eventually destroys any record of your arrest so that you can legally state you’ve never been arrested.
Who is Eligible for Expungement?
If you’re interested in wiping the slate clean, you’ll want to look into expungement. In the state of California, expungement is available to those with both misdemeanor and felony convictions (with some exceptions). So long as you have served out your sentence and probation, attended all required court appearances, and did not commit any additional crimes while on probation.
Keep in mind, however, that there are some convictions that simply cannot be expunged. Examples of these include certain sex crimes against children and statutory rape.
Who is Eligible for Sealing of Records?
There are a few situations in which you could be eligible to have your arrest record sealed and destroyed. For example, if you were arrested as a juvenile and are currently an adult, you may be eligible for record sealing if the arrest happened more than five years ago. Furthermore, you must not have any current convictions or pending litigation ongoing as a result of your juvenile arrest.
Benefits of Expungement or Sealing
There are numerous ways in which an expungement of your criminal record or even sealing of an arrest record can be beneficial to you. For starters, on job applications, you’ll be able to state that you’ve never been convicted of a crime or never been arrested, which can open up your job opportunities. Furthermore, expungement or sealing can also make it possible for you to obtain certain state certifications that you may not have otherwise been eligible for.
In some cases, expungement or record sealing can also help you maintain your credibility if you ever have to testify as a witness in court. Some facing the threat of deportation even find that expungement or record sealing can help them stay in the country.
Things You Need to Know
Before you decide with certainty that you want to pursue expungement or arrest record sealing, there are some additional things you should know. For starters, if you have a felony conviction, expungement will not allow you to legally own a firearm. Furthermore, if you’re looking to run for public office or are applying to be a police officer in the state of California, seal records and expungement records may still be visible and considered as part of your application.
Overall, expungement or record sealing can be a great way to expand your employment opportunities and free yourself from the burden of a criminal or arrest record. If you’re looking for professional assistance in expunging or sealing your record, feel free to contact us and set up a consultation today.