Expungement is a court ordered process in which the legal record of an arrest or a criminal convection is "sealed," or erased in the eyes of the law. This is also known as "setting aside a criminal conviction."
This has an important impact on your ability to move on with a normal life. After the expungement process is completed an arrest or criminal conviction usually does not need to be disclosed by the person who was arrested or convicted. This is critical because it means that when filling out a job or housing application you do not need to disclose that arrest or conviction.
Importantly, public searches conducted by educational institutions, possible employers, companies or others, will not turn up previous arrests or convictions that have been expunged.
Once all your convictions have been dismissed:
• Private employers cannot ask you about any convictions dismissed under Penal Code §1203.4. If you apply for a private sector job you usually do not have to disclose a conviction if it was dismissed or expunged.
• You will not be allowed to possess or own a firearm until you would otherwise be able to do so
• Your dismissed convictions can still be used to increase your punishment in future criminal cases
• Your prior convictions can still affect your driving privileges
• If you are a registered sex offender your status as such will continue to be available to the public on the Internet under Megan's Law. Note: If you have been required to register as a sex offender as a result of a conviction you have to make a different motion to the court in order to be relieved of this requirement.
Expungement does not necessarily mean that the arrest or conviction is completed erased. An expungement will ordinarily be an accessible part of your criminal record, viewable by certain government agencies, including law enforcement and the criminal courts. This limited accessibility is referred to as a criminal record being "under seal." Note: In some legal proceedings, such as during sentencing for any crimes committed after an expungement, or in immigration/deportation proceedings, an expunged conviction that is "under seal" may still be considered as proof of a prior conviction.
Eligibility for expungement of an arrest or conviction relies on various factors. The lawyers of Schwartz & Powell can assist you in obtaining expungement so you can get a fresh start. We can represent you with the authority of legal expertise in the expungement process.
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