I know – especially now with the economy the way it is, being the best applicant for a job gives you the best chance. How can you compete with a past criminal record? What about having to disclose past convictions for things like rental applications? How can you get prior convictions off your record? It depends on what your situation is.
Sealing Arrest Records (Declaration of Factual Innocence)
If you were arrested for a crime you didn’t commit, the arrest itself may be on your criminal record and show up on a background check. There are procedures to get the arrest taken off your record and anorder by the court directing the police to destroy any records of the arrest.
Early Termination of Probation
Probation, both for felonies and misdemeanors, generally lasts for three years from the date of the conviction or guilty plea. If you have “good cause” to have your probation terminated early, you can petition the court for relief. This is often done along with an expungement.
Expungement (a.k.a. Dismissal)
If you meet certain requirements, I can file the appropriate motions and paperwork with the court to get a hearing in front of the judge. When your expungement is granted, you can legally say you were never convicted of that crime. [There are some exceptions and limitations that you must be aware of. We can discuss that further when we meet to go over your case and options.] See here for additional information about the benefits of getting a conviction expunged.
Reduction of a Felony to a Misdemeanor (17b reduction)
Not every felony qualifies for a reduction under this provision in the Penal Code. Some felonies are known as “wobblers” and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If you were convicted of a felony that is a “wobbler,” you may be eligible to reduce your case to a misdemeanor. This can also be done along with an expungement of the case.
Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon
If you were convicted of a felony charge, you may be eligible for a certificate of rehabilitation and pardon. It is a two-step procedure. First, it is a motion in the Superior Court seeking a certificate of rehabilitation. If the court grants that motion and issues the certificate, that is forwarded to the Governor’s office as an application for a pardon.
*** Note: Each case is different and all the options above may not be available to you, depending on many factors. To check if you are eligible for relief under one of these procedures, contact me and we can discuss which program is available to you, along with the benefits and limitations of each.
***** UPDATE *****
A new law in January 2011 will now allow you to expunge infractions from your record as well. Under the current (2010) law, you couldn’t do that, but now you can even clear infractions.