James M. Crawford

Expungement: Is it available in California?

| Jul 14, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Expunging your criminal record could help your life in many ways, but is it easy to do in California? Cleaning up your record is possible, and it can help reduce the impact of any convictions in your past.

True expungement doesn’t exist in the state, but you may have other options to resolve your past and help yourself move forward with a clean record.

Why would you want to clean your record?

The main reasons for cleaning your records include to:

  • Restore your gun rights
  • Eliminate the requirement to register as a sex offender
  • Apply for a new job
  • Apply for housing

Here is more on each of those topics.

Restoring your gun rights

If you have a felony, you cannot possess a firearm. You can restore your gun rights by getting a felony charged changed to a misdemeanor, but some misdemeanors will still have a ban on owning a weapon. This is something to consider, however.

A second option is to pursue a pardon from the Governor of California.

Remember, both California and federal law bans felons from owning guns, so you will need to meet the state and federal requirements to get those rights back.

Getting off the Sex Offender Registry

In July 2021, changes will now make it possible for past registrants of the sex offender list to get off the registry. A new tier-based system is in place, so you may be able to ask to stop registering by filing a petition with the court. With the new system, the minimum registration is 10 years.

Applying for new housing or a new job

Trying to get a job or housing when you have a criminal record can be difficult. Record cleaning may be able to help reduce the likelihood of having applications rejected, but the process does take several months. It won’t be immediately helpful for a new job or home.

What do you need to clean your record?

To clean your record, you will need to know:

  • Where you were convicted or arrested
  • The code section of an arrest or conviction
  • Your case number
  • The date of the arrest or conviction

All of this is available on your Record of Arrest or Prosecution sheet.

On the California’s Court’s website, there is a simple question and answer sheet that may help you understand if you qualify for cleaning your record. If you believe you are or aren’t sure if you are, then you may want to look into the laws and legal options you have.

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