The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Can You Expunge Your Criminal Record?

A criminal record isn't exactly a hot accessory, especially when it comes to getting a job or an apartment. That record will follow you unless you can get rid of it. You know, by expunging it.

Expungement can clear your criminal record and in many ways, the conviction disappears. It allows you to put the past behind you and not have to keep dragging it around. While your court file remains public record, once it's expunged you don't have to disclose your conviction any longer.

But California is very specific about which crimes can be expunged and under what circumstances. To do it, you have to qualify.

The Golden State is very specific about what kinds of crimes can be expunged. It's limited to situations in which the person was sentenced only to county jail time, probation, a fine, or some combination of those.

It also allows you to convert "wobbler" crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor. (A wobbler can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Instead of removing the crime from the record, it makes it appear less serious.)

For people whose crimes qualify for expungement, there are some procedural requirements as well. The first is that at least one year must have passed since your conviction.

Before applying for expungement, you also have to complete all the terms of a sentence. That includes any probation, parole, classes, or community service. All fines must be paid too.

Once the sentence has been served and restitution paid, a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you figure out how to apply for expungement. Then a court will review your petition.

Keep in mind that certain behaviors will disqualify you. You can't be serving another sentence when you apply. And if you were busted again within a year of the conviction you're trying to expunge, your petition will go nowhere.

But, if you can expunge your prior convictions, make every effort to do it. A clean record can change your life.

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