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Erasing Arrest Record California
Expungement is a legal process through which an arrest or conviction may be erased from a person’s criminal record. Below you will find links to in-depth information on expungement, and state-specific resources on expungement and criminal records.
- Expungement Basics – Introductory information on expungement and its legal effects.
- Eligibility for Expungement – An arrest or conviction usually must meet certain standards in order to qualify for expungement.
- The Expungement Process – A number of steps must be taken before an expungement is granted.
Expungement (also called “expunction”) is a court-ordered process in which the legal record of an arrest or a criminal conviction is “sealed,” or erased in the eyes of the law. When a conviction is expunged, the process may also be referred to as “setting aside a criminal conviction.” The availability of expungement, and the procedure for getting an arrest or conviction expunged, will vary according to the state or county in which the arrest or conviction occurred.
Legal Effect of an Expungement
An expungement ordinarily means that an arrest or conviction is “sealed,” or erased from a person’s criminal record for most purposes. After the expungement process is complete, an arrest or a criminal conviction ordinarily does not need to be disclosed by the person who was arrested or convicted. For example, when filling out an application for a job or apartment, an applicant whose arrest or conviction has been expunged does not need to disclose that arrest or conviction.
In most cases, no record of an expunged arrest or conviction will appear if a potential employer, educational institution, or other company conducts a public records inspection or background search of an individual’s criminal record.
An expunged arrest or conviction is not necessarily completely erased, in the literal sense of the word. An expungement will ordinarily be an accessible part of a person’s criminal record, viewable by certain government agencies, including law enforcement and the criminal courts. This limited accessibility is sometimes referred to as a criminal record being “under seal.” In some legal proceedings, such as during sentencing for any crimes committed after an expungement, or in immigration / deportation proceedings, an expunged conviction that is “under seal” may still be considered as proof of a prior conviction.
When expungement of an arrest or conviction is an option in a state or county, in most instances a person’s criminal record must meet certain standards in order to qualify for the process.
Whether or not a person is eligible for expungement will usually depend on a number of factors, including:
- The amount of time that has passed since the arrest or conviction
- The severity and nature of the event for which expungement is sought (i.e. a conviction for a sex offense may lead to a denial of expungement)
- Events in the applicant’s criminal record (including arrests or convictions in all jurisdictions, not just the offender’s state/county)
- The severity and nature of other events in the applicant’s criminal record
Depending on the state and/or county, special eligibility rules might exist for expungement of arrests or convictions that occurred while the offender was a juvenile, and arrests or convictions for sex offenses.
The Expungement Process
Where available to persons who have been arrested or convicted, expungement does not happen automatically, and is never guaranteed. A person seeking to have an arrest or criminal conviction expunged from their record must usually fill out an application or petition, and submit the paperwork to the proper criminal court for a judge’s review and decision. In most jurisdictions, a fee must be paid in conjunction with the filing of the application.
The expungement process can be complicated. For example, some jurisdictions require an applicant to deliver (or “serve”) papers on district attorneys, while others require the applicant to prepare the legal document (or “Order of Expungement”) which will be signed by the judge. In some cases, a court hearing is required, after which a judge will decide whether to grant the expungement.
If you have any questions about erasing arrest record California contact San Diego Criminal Attorney today at 619.405.0063 or visit San Diego Criminal Attorney