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Expunging Your Conviction

May 18 2010

Penal Code sec. 1203.4 helps defendants place records in a much better light and improve chances with job applications, retaining existing employment and other objectives.

Once expunged, the person can legally say, such as on an employment application, that he or she has never been convicted of a crime. State employment regulations (2 CCR 7287.4(d)) provide that it is unlawful for an employer to inquire or seek information regarding any applicant concerning "any conviction for which the record has been judicially 'expunged'. pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.4."

There are exceptions. An expunged conviction does not wipe the record clean for public employers (e.g. police officers, state licensing boards, public office) - but it does show that a judge has considered and granted the expungement petition, entered a not guilty plea and then dismissed the case. In addition, many sex offenses (as well as simple traffic tickets) cannot be expunged.

An expungement can come in handy where a professional license hangs in the balance (e.g. real estate, insurance, cosmetology, pharmacy and many others). A court's expungement order will have a favorable bearing with disciplinary hearings and could mean the difference between being denied or granted a professional license.

In the immigration context, a 2009 U.S. 9th Circuit case has ruled that certain expunged convictions cannot be used to remove a person from this country (Ramirez-Altamirano v. Mukasey). Generally, the INS will view an applicant with an expunged conviction more favorably than one without.

In the insurance context, an insurance company may choose to reduce rates in view of an expungement order.

Certain requirements must be met before an expungement petition can be granted. Probation must have expired without violation and all conditions must have been followed. Once filed, the court will calendar the expungement petition for a hearing date about three months from the filing date.

You will not have to attend court. Once the petition is granted, I will send you the order (entered on the official court record and transmitted to the state Dept. of Justice) dismissing the case. To move forward, please contact my office and we'll obtain the necessary information for the petition.

Best regards from the Law Office of Michael L. Shultz


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