What is an Expungement?


Expungement of criminal records is a legal procedure in which someone petitions the court to (1) withdraw his/her plea of guilty, and (2) have the case dismissed. If the court grants the expungement, the person's criminal record is updated to reflect that the conviction has been expunged.

California Penal Code §1203.4 says once a criminal case is expunged, the person must be released from all "penalties and disabilities" arising out of the conviction. However, this is subject to the several limitations discussed at the "What an Expungement Does Not DO" Page.

The prosecutor must be notified of the petition for expungement at least 15 days prior to the hearing. The prosecutor has the opportunity to object to the expungement being granted.

Do I Qualify to Have My Record Expunged?

If the court granted you probation, and you successfully completed that probation, then you will qualify to expunge the criminal case at the end of the period of probation.

Successful completion of probation means that you (1) served the time on probation, (2) paid all your fines and restitution, (3) attended your court dates, (4) didn't commit any new crimes, (5) and completed any conditions of probation that the court imposed (such as CALTRANS, community service or counseling).

What If I Did Not Successfully Complete Probation?

If you violated your probation, then the court may deny your petition for expungement. The court will hold a hearing, weigh all of the facts, and decide (in its discretion) whether to go ahead and grant the expungement petition.

Among the factors the court may consider at this "discretionary expungement" hearing are the seriousness of your probation violation, the reasons for the probation violation, the seriousness of the underlying conviction, the existence or lack of other criminal convictions, and other positive things in your life such as employment, family and community service.

Call us for help

If you or loved one is in need of help with expungements and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.

For information about how to seal Nevada criminal records, go to our article on how to seal Nevada criminal records.

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