Your Criminal Record: How to Get It Sealed
An arrest, whether it resulted in a conviction or not, will go on your record, and that charge can be accessed with or without your knowledge. Thus, it can cost you employment, apartments, loans, and other important opportunities. No one wants to lose their dream job over an arrest that wasn’t even justified, or even because of a crime that you have already paid for. Thankfully, with an experienced attorney by your side, there are ways to get your record sealed in California.
Sealing Your Record if You Weren’t Convicted
An arrest can go on your record whether or not it actually resulted in a conviction in a California court. This means you may be facing ramifications for an arrest that was unlawful unjustified, or even due to profiling. However, getting your record sealed following an arrest is possible.
You were “factually innocent”: If you can prove that there was no justifiable reason behind your arrest, then you can have the charges removed from your record. This may involve citing the conviction of the actual criminal, showing evidence of profiling, or demonstrating that the police that arrested you were acting unlawfully.
You were charged, but not convicted: Even if you were charged with a crime, that does not mean you cannot have your records sealed. For example, if you were charged, but the statute of limitations ran out on each of your charges before you were convicted of the alleged crimes, then you can request to have your record sealed. Or, if the charges against you were acquitted, meaning you were found not guilty, then your record of the arrest and charges can be removed.
Your Conviction was reversed: If you were convicted, but you appealed the conviction and successfully had your conviction reversed, then you can have your record sealed.
Sealing Your Record if You Were Convicted
No one should have a conviction hanging over their head for their entire life, especially if they already served their time. Thankfully, just like with an arrest, you can still have your record sealed following a conviction. However, the process for sealing your record following a conviction is slightly different and can become a little more complicated.
You completed your probation: If you were granted probation instead of a jail or prison sentence, whether it is for a misdemeanor or a felony charge, and you completed that probation to the satisfaction of the court, then you can file to have your record sealed. However, at the time of your application, you may not be serving probation for a different offense.
You completed the terms of your sentence: It is possible to seal your record even if you have been sentenced to jail or prison. However, all terms of your punishment must be met, including your parole period and fines or restitutions you were required to pay. After you have met the agreed-on terms, you must wait a year, and then you can file an application. During that year, you may not be arrested or convicted of any other crimes.
You completed a diversion program: Sometimes the court will choose to send you to a diversion program, such as rehabilitation or anger management classes, rather than jail or prison. This is meant to help convicted criminals re-enter society and get themselves back on their feet. Along that vein, after successfully completing the program, you may petition to have your record sealed.
When Things Become Complicated
All of that is well and good, but there are factors that may complicate your ability to have your records sealed. Some of those include:
- The crime you were charged with does not have a statute of limitations
- The statute of limitations for the crime has not yet ended
- You purposefully evaded the attempts made to arrest you
- You were convicted of, or have a history of, violent crimes and sexual crimes, especially crimes against minors
Expunging your record and getting it sealed is not an easy process, especially if you run into the above issues. But a skilled attorney experienced in getting criminal records expunged can help you get the job done. If you want your record sealed so that you can move on with your life, call Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP at (213) 688-0460 for excellent legal help.