In our lives as fallible humans on this planet, we are destined to make mistakes. While some mistakes may warrant punishment, that punishment doesn’t have to follow around the individual for the rest of their lives. That’s why criminal expungement exists: Because to err is human, but to erase from the record is part and parcel of the Handley Law Center’s extensive array of service offerings and legal specialties.
According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center:
The social consequences of a criminal record can lead to the denial of an individual’s right to civic participation. Life, subsequent to an arrest, is permanently altered. Regardless of whether an individual has been convicted, an arrest or citation typically persists on a criminal record. Therefore, even a person who has had the charges against them dropped may be subject to a degree of social ostracism and a de facto public finding of guilt.
“Expungement” literally refers to the process of cleaning up a criminal record. In the expungement process, we will request that the court reopen your criminal case, withdraw either the plea or guilty verdict, dismiss the charges, and re-close the case without a conviction. In effect, you will no longer be a convicted person, but the case record itself will still exist. Still, the outcome of the case will no longer be listed as your original plea or conviction but instead will be listed as dismissed in the “interests of justice.”
It should be noted before attempting to expunge your record that not all convictions can be dismissed. Only cases in which the defendant was convicted of a misdemeanor (or a felony that could have been charged as a misdemeanor) and was sentenced to county jail time, probation, a fine or a combination of those three can be expunged. Additionally, the penal codes permitting expungement of criminal records expressly prohibit certain types of convictions from being dismissed. Most of these exceptions involve serious vehicle-code violations (those that result in two or more points on your driving record) or sexual offenses against minors.
Although your conviction may be dismissed, restrictions resulting from the conviction cannot. For example, an expungement does not:
- Remove the conviction from your criminal history
- Seal the court case file from public inspection
- Reinstate your right to possess firearms
- Relieve you of your duty to register as a sex offender (although, in some cases, this may be accomplished by a different motion to the court)
- Allow you to omit the conviction from applications for government-issued licenses
- Allow you to omit the conviction from application for government employment
- Allow you to hold public office, if the conviction prevented you from doing so
- Prevent the conviction from being used to refuse or revoke a government license or permit, such as real estate license, teaching credential, security guard certificate, etc.
- Prevent the conviction from being used as a “prior”
- Prevent the conviction from being used by the DMV
- Prevent the conviction from being used by US Citizenship and Immigration
If your case qualifies as being within the legal boundaries of expungement options, then please contact the Handley Law Center at your earliest convenience. We have the experience and knowledge to erase qualifying mistakes from your past and help you move forward to a brighter tomorrow.