When you have run into legal trouble and as a result have a criminal conviction for a misdemeanor charge, you could face long-term challenges such as obtaining employment or even renting an apartment. For some, the process of sealing or expunging a criminal record can provide not only peace of mind, but may also open up new opportunities.

What is expungement?

While expungement means “clearing” of a record, under California law what it means is dismissing a charge against you. In most cases, this involves asking the court to reopen a case against you and dismissing the resulting charges. Generally, only those crimes which were charged as misdemeanors are eligible for this process. In some cases however, it is possible to reopen a felony conviction, have the charges reduced to a misdemeanor and subsequently have the misdemeanor dismissed.

What happens with my record?

An expungement or dismissal allows you to honestly state that you have not been convicted of a crime on most job applications. The exception is that on federal or government applications you would have to explain that the charges have been dismissed.  The courts will still have a record of your conviction with a notation that the charges were dismissed. These charges could be held against you if you were later convicted of another crime.

Why would I want an expungement?

In some cases, professional licensing, job applications and even loan applications could be denied if you have a criminal conviction. Some people find that background checks that are run by landlords have resulted in being denied housing because of a criminal conviction. Expunging your record simply allows you to have the ability to have a “clean slate”.

Are there crimes that cannot be expunged?

Yes, there are some instances when a criminal record cannot be expunged. Any crime that required you to serve time in state prison or certain sexual crimes will be ineligible for expungement.  In some cases, at the court’s discretion, you may not be eligible for an expungement if you violated the terms of any probation that was court ordered.

Those who have been successful having their records cleared through the expungement process often find they have additional opportunities for housing and employment open to them. While this process will not restore your driver’s license or grant you the right to possess a firearm sooner than the normal process would it can provide you with peace of mind and other opportunities. If you believe you would benefit from having your criminal record expunged, contact The Law Office of Patrick M. Coughlin at (408) 444-5298 for immediate assistance.

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