California Criminal Record Sevices
You Don’t Always Need to be Looked at as Guilty
Having a criminal record in California makes life more difficult. A criminal record can limit you from getting the job you want, obtaining housing, getting professional licenses, legally owning a firearm, qualifying for government programs, receiving student loans, and many other opportunities which would otherwise be available to you.
When convicted of a crime in California, a criminal record is created with the California Department of Justice. That record is then forwarded to the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division, making the information relating to your arrest and conviction publicly available in a background check.
To make matters worse, criminal records in California are typically available to the public without even needing a formal California background check. Often, anybody with a connection to the Internet can find your California criminal record. Fortunately, California law provides several different options to limit the consequences of having a California criminal record.
Know Your Options
California offers quite a few methods to get rid of or limit the availability of criminal records and restore your Second Amendment Rights, so it’s important to review the specific circumstances surrounding the incidents on your record to determine the best method of relief.
The most common remedies to deal with a criminal record in California include:
- Expunging Convictions in California
- Reducing Felonies in California
- Expungement and Sealing of Marijuana Crimes (Prop 64)
- Certificates of Rehabilitation
- Restoring Firearm Rights in California
Summaries of Our California Services
Expungement of Felony Convictions: Expunging a California felony conviction results in the dismissal of your conviction, removing the felony conviction from your California criminal record. In other words, a California felony expungement reopens your criminal case, and then changes the result from a felony conviction to a dismissal. Although a California expungement does not destroy your California criminal record entirely, it does result in you no longer being convicted, which permits you to legally state that you have never been convicted of the crime.
Felony Reductions: In many circumstances, California law allows you to reduce a felony conviction to a misdemeanor. A person who was granted probation for a “wobbler” offense – one that could have been charged as a misdemeanor or felony – may often obtain a felony reduction. Successfully reducing a felony under California Penal Code Section 17(b) will often restore your ability to own and possess a gun.
Expungement of Misdemeanor Convictions: Expunging a California misdemeanor conviction results in the dismissal of your conviction, removing the misdemeanor conviction from your California criminal record. Specifically, a California misdemeanor expungement reopens your criminal case, and then changes the result from a conviction to a dismissal. The effect of expunging misdemeanor convictions is the same as for felony convictions: Although a California expungement does not destroy your California criminal record entirely, it does result in you no longer having a conviction on your record, which permits you to legally state that you have never been convicted of the crime.
California Arrest Record Sealing: If your California criminal record did not result in a conviction, some circumstances permit you to seal your California arrest record, completely removing the criminal record from the public record. To qualify for a California arrest record sealing, you must establish that you were factually innocent of the crime for which you were arrested. This is a difficult legal standard to meet, but successfully sealing your California arrest record will typically completely remove your criminal record from the California public record.
California Firearm Rights Restoration: In many circumstances, California law allows further relief after expunging a California felony conviction. If you qualify to expunge a felony conviction, and the offense is a “wobbler” under California criminal law, you may often obtain a felony reduction in addition to the expungement. This is an important distinction, because successfully reducing a felony under California Penal Code Section 17(b) will often restore your ability to own and possess a gun. In addition, certain misdemeanor offenses can also lead to a loss of firearm rights in California. In this case, your gun rights can only be restored after a period of 10 years.
Resentencing, Expungement and Sealing of Marijuana Crimes (Proposition 64): Offenses that are now legal or now considered misdemeanors may be fully sealed or reduced to misdemeanor. If your marijuana–related offense is now considered legal (example: possession of marijuana), you may qualify to have your prior marijuana conviction fully sealed. Other types of convictions are now considered only misdemeanors and may be eligible for reduction to misdemeanor.
California Certificates of Rehabilitation: If your record is ineligible for an expungement in California, a Certificate of Rehabilitation may still be available. Although a Certificate of Rehabilitation does not expunge your criminal offense, it is an official statement by the court that you have been rehabilitated since your criminal past. Furthermore, the granting of a Certificate of Rehabilitation acts as an automatic pardon application to the Office of the Governor.
Early Termination of California Probation: If you are anxious to expunge your record and still on probation, you can apply to end your probation early. All fines and court costs must be paid in full and you must have completed any and all court-ordered classes. In our experience, early probation termination is typically accompanied by an expungement.
The process for, and effect of, expunging a California DUI conviction is the same as expunging a California felony or misdemeanor conviction. First, the expungement reopens your criminal case, and then the result is changed from a conviction to a dismissal. Once again, while the expungement does not destroy the criminal record entirely, it does permit you to legally state that you have never been convicted of the crime. We offer this as a different service from a typical expungement, as they require the preparation of additional documents and require more work.
California Pardons: Most Californians that want to obtain a pardon from the Governor must first apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. If granted, the certificate automatically turns into a pardon application. Although obtaining a pardon is usually more difficult than the above services, Governor Jerry Brown issued over 1,300 pardons, and Gavin Newsom has continued this trend since being elected.
On the service-specific pages linked above, we review and explain information about these post-conviction remedies in more detail, covering both how to qualify and the effects for each of them.
This Information is for You
Since the majority of people reading this aren’t lawyers, we’ve tried to simplify the legal jargon on our website, so regular people may follow along and get the information needed to understand their rights. However, before we get started, we should be clear that some of this information can get complicated, and, in many cases, it’s best to seek the assistance of an experienced lawyer.
To help you understand your rights, our lawyers have developed a tool that can be helpful in figuring out your options. This tool can’t be perfectly accurate in every situation, but our lawyers have invested substantial time and resources working to make it as accurate as possible.
You can get started by using our Secure Eligibility Test, or you can give us a call at (844) 947-3732 to see if our legal staff is available for a free consultation. Be aware that our staff is often busy with current clients and a high volume of calls and appointments. If you’re serious about getting rid of your record, your best bet is to take our Secure Eligibility Test and then schedule an appointment to discuss your results and options.
Advantages of Sealing and Expunging California Records
The two biggest issues our law firm’s clients encounter relate to obtaining employment and restoring firearm rights, so we’re going to discuss each. California law permits you to expunge both misdemeanor and felony convictions, seal arrest records, restore firearm rights, and seal juvenile records. There is a wide range of different legal remedies to deal with your criminal record, and each one serves a different purpose.
How will expunging my conviction or sealing my arrest record help me get a job?
The answer to this question depends on what type of post-conviction remedy you qualify for, but each of the criminal record services discussed should be helpful in getting a job.
Expunging a California conviction is one of the best ways to improve your chances of obtaining employment when you have a criminal record. Expunging a conviction indicates that you’re no longer a “criminal” and releases you from the judgement of guilt. It allows you to legally state that you have not been convicted of the expunged offense.
It does not destroy or remove the record from public view like sealing an arrest. Instead, when you are granted an expungement, the court reopens the case, vacates your conviction and dismisses the charges. If accompanied with a felony reduction, it also reduces the actual offense and results in a dismissed misdemeanor instead of a felony conviction. Additionally, California has recently enacted a number of laws making it illegal to discriminate in hiring based on expunged records.
If you were convicted of a marijuana-related offense, you may qualify under Proposition 64 to expunge and maybe even seal a conviction. If you qualify to both expunge and seal your record under this new law, the conviction would be completely removed from your record. In many cases, relief under Proposition 64 will only allow the resentencing of your offense, and you will not be able to seal your record. Please visit our page on Proposition 64 for more information on what type of relief you may qualify for.
Certificates of rehabilitation do not directly affect the conviction itself, but they do provide documentation indicating that a court has found that you’ve been rehabilitated since being released from your sentence. Very recently, the Pardon and Commutation Reform Act of 2018 has made it illegal for employers to consider convictions for which the person has obtained a Certificate of Rehabilitation. This new development has greatly increased the value of a Certificate of Rehabilitation for employment purposes.
Arrest record sealing only applies when you weren’t convicted of the offense, but the sealing results in the complete destruction of the criminal record. Arrests are not typically as much of a barrier to employment, but it’s certainly preferable when prior arrests do not appear during a background check.
With the passage of Section 432.7 of the California Labor Code, an employer may not ask a job applicant for information relating to an arrest that did not result in a conviction, may not ask about diversion programs, and may not even search for non-conviction records. This law prohibits information about non-convictions from being considered as a factor in any aspect of the employment process, however, employers may inquire into an arrest for which there is a pending trial. This new law considers pleas, verdicts, or findings of guilt to be convictions. Regarding juvenile records, employers are prohibited from asking applicants about a juvenile case regardless of result and may not use information from those cases as factors in any aspect of the employment process.
Will expunging my record restore my Second Amendment Right to own and possess a firearm
Not everybody with a conviction in California can restore their constitutional right to own or possess firearms, but California’s laws are favorable when compared to other states. However, like the effect on employment, restoring your firearms depends on which legal remedy you use.
As stated before, “wobbler offenses” under California law that are eligible to be expunged may also be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. This process often restores your ability to own a firearm, but those rights depend on the successful reduction of the offense after expunging it. However, certain misdemeanor offenses may also require a waiting period of 10 years before firearm rights may be restored.
It should be noted that you can almost never restore firearm rights based on federal convictions, and it can be very difficult if your Second Amendment rights were taken away due to a domestic violence conviction. For more information about federal firearm rights and domestic violence charges, the Department of Justice has resources you can find over domestic violence convictions.
We will go into more detail regarding restoring Second Amendment rights in California on our California Firearm Rights Restoration Page, but restoration typically involves both state and federal law that should be handled by an experienced lawyer. The lawyers in our firm regularly handle complex firearm rights restoration issues, so a good first step in exploring whether you can restore your firearm rights would be to take our Secure Eligibility Test. Then, if appropriate, set up a time to speak with our legal staff about how to proceed.
What You Need to Do to Get Rid of Your Record
If you are tired of having a criminal record hold you back, reach out to us by taking our Secure Eligibility Test or by giving us a call at (844) 947-3732. Our law firm has helped thousands of people with criminal records move on in life, leaving many of the negative effects of a criminal record behind. Our experienced attorneys and legal staff are here to help you figure out what criminal record clearing services best fit your needs, and then help you accomplish your goals. Using our secure, confidential Eligibility Test is the best way to get the process started.
Some of the potential benefits of expunging your criminal record in California include:
- Removing a finding of guilt from your criminal record to help you get a better job
- Becoming eligible for professional licenses you previously did not qualify for
- Restoring your Second Amendment Right to bear arms
- No longer being treated as a felon
- Increased eligibility for student loans, housing assistance, and government programs
- Improving your ability to obtain higher-paying job opportunities
- Improving access and admission to college and other educational resources
Each of California’s methods for dealing with your criminal record have different requirements and are meant for different circumstances. To move forward, it’s important to determine what California criminal record services are available to you, and then select the services that will provide the greatest benefit. Eastman Meyler, PC is here to help you navigate this very specific area of California criminal law, fight to protect your rights, and assist you in moving forward in life without the effects of a California criminal record.
You can trust that you will get exceptional service from our law firm, as we have an A Rating from the Better Business Bureau, and prestigious attorney rating services such as Thompson Reuters and Avvo list our attorneys as Super Lawyers and Superb Attorneys. Our law firm has attorneys licensed to practice law in all California state courts, provides low price guarantees, and is here to fight for you and put your criminal record behind you!