Los Angeles Expungement Lawyers
Hiring the right Los Angeles expungement lawyer means getting an attorney who knows how to do it right the first time to avoid added expenses and delays. The expungement process can be slowed down by courts and even a single mistake on a form will cause the entire expungement process to be thrown out. Refilling it will take weeks (or months) so it is critical that it is 100 percent accurate the moment it is filed to avoid long delays.
We are Los Angeles expungement attorneys. Having handled thousands of expungements in Southern California, we know which courts have specific (and unique) requirements to grant an expungement motion which allows us to tailor the motion to the particular court and judge so it gets granted quickly.
How is Expungement Different from California Penal Code Section 851.87: Sealing and Destroying Arrest Records?
Many people often confuse the meaning of “expungement” with “sealing of records.” They are completely different. An expungement removes the conviction and the guilty or no contest plea and switches it to not guilty and shows that the charge has been dismissed pursuant to California Penal Code section 1203.4. For example, if someone is charged with domestic violence and enters a plea of guilty with three years of informal probation, at the end of the probation period, as expungement attorneys and domestic violence attorneys we can apply to have the conviction expunged (removed).
Sealing of arrest records, pursuant to California Penal Code section 851.87 is completely different than expunging a criminal conviction. Sealing and destroying criminal records pursuant to this code section means removing the arrest itself from the record, which is not what is achieved through an expungement. While an expungement is beneficial to clearing a background check, sealing an arrest is a better solution when possible because it removes the entire listing from the background. Instead of saying dismissed as in the case of an expungement, a sealing pursuant to 851.87 will remove the incident record altogether.
Having your case or arrest sealing pursuant to California Penal Code section 851.87 has very specific requirements and is more difficult than a normal expungement. To be eligible for having your arrest sealed, it is important that the person did not ever get convicted of the offense.
A person who has been arrested is generally eligible for sealing of arrest records if:
- There was no case filed by the prosecutor’s office
- A case was filed but you were found completely not guilty of ALL charges relating to the arrest.
- You completed a pre-filing diversion program that prevented charges from being filed by the prosecutor’s office.
- If you were found guilty or convicted but successfully appeal your conviction
In the domestic violence example, when a client hires us to defend the case, most of the time we can have the case dropped before it ever gets filed. That means that the person was arrested for domestic violence, but we managed to convince the prosecuting agency (DA’s office) not to press any charges. In this case, there would be no charges and no criminal convictions. This is a perfect example of an incident that would benefit from sealing an arrest record. Having an experienced Los Angeles expungement or a criminal defense attorney is imperative because there are very sensitive timelines involved in seeking to have an arrest removed, and if done at the wrong time, it can actually cause the case to be filed.
When we seek to have an arrest sealed, we are asking the court to find our client “factually innocent,” meaning that they are being declared completely innocent of the crime by the court. When we request this of the court, the prosecutor’s office and the police will re-examine the case. If done too soon, or improperly, the prosecutor can change their decision not to file and initiate new charges if the case is not so old that it is beyond the statute of limitations.
Once we file the motion to seal the arrest pursuant to California Penal Code section 851.87, once the motion is granted, our client does not have to disclose the arrest or the incident at all (though the police agency keeps an internal record of the arrest which generally cannot be used against you.)
At the law offices of Hart J. Levin, we have been very successful at erasing arrests through this process and can have it done quickly and efficiently for our clients. If you have been arrested for a crime and you would like to get the arrest sealed, call us now for a free consultation.
Clearing a Criminal Record (Penal Code 1203.4):
I often get asked, can my record be cleared? Can my conviction be “sealed” or erased? In most cases, the answer is “yes,” the conviction can be removed.
What is an Expungement?
An expungement is a process where someone who has been convicted in criminal court can petition the court to remove the conviction, show “not guilty” and that the case was “dismissed.”
Why Do I Need an Expungement?
Having anything on your criminal record will cause problems when applying for jobs, for apartments, for purchasing homes, cars, getting into college or grad schools, working with children, with the elderly, etc. The bottom line is that it is a competitive market out there and if an employer is deciding between two candidates, one with a criminal record, and one without, they will most likely choose the person with no criminal record. Keep in mind that a conviction is forever, meaning that a criminal record never purges. It remains on your record forever, which is another reason why it is critical to have an experienced expungement attorney remove the conviction for you.
Are You Eligible For an Expungement?
Most people are eligible to have their conviction removed or expunged. A person is ineligible for an expungement if they went to prison for the underlying crime, if they are currently on probation for another crime, and certain crimes against children (sexual abuse). Most felonies and misdemeanors can be expunged.
The Benefits of an Expungement
The government has made a law (known as AB 1008) that an expunged conviction in most cases cannot be used against someone in the hiring process. In the past, an employer could discriminate based on all convictions, even ones that were expunged. Now, the law protects people who have had their records expunged and makes it very difficult for employers to use a prior conviction against them for purposes of hiring.
There are many people who have immigration concerns with a criminal conviction. An expungement is extremely critical to these people (DACA or “Dreamers” especially). A conviction can and often will have negative consequences on immigration status and renewal. An expungement can pave the way for naturalization, renewal of visas and work permits, and allowing DACA recipients to remain in the United States.
State professional licenses, like the Board of Real Estate, Board of Nursing, etc, will be made much easier with expunged convictions as opposed to convictions on the record.
How to Have Your Record Expunged in Los Angeles
The process of getting a case expunged requires written motions and court hearings typically. In many cases, the court isn’t comfortable expunging convictions without being given an important reason as to why the applicant wants the charge expunged. We, as expungement attorneys, navigate the entire process from start to finish to ensure the court grants the motion to expunge. Each judge has their own unique things they like to see in a request for an expungement and knowing them is key to your success.
Having handled over 1200 expungements, we know which judges require additional hearings, motions, declarations, or have other unique requirements. Our experience is a valuable tool to navigate a huge criminal justice system where the judge has little reason to focus on an old finished case. The courts are quick to disqualify expungement motions for even the slightest technical error or typo. Getting the motions done right the first time, and to the specific judge’s requirements, is the key to our success. There are several different types of expungement to be used in different cases. For example, Penal Code section 1203.4 is applicable in many cases, but if the wrong penal code is selected on a motion, the court will immediately deny the entire motion.
How Long Do Expungements Take?
As experienced expungement attorneys, we expedite the motions knowing full well that the court calendars are severely backed up. Some courts can take up to two full months before completing the expungement, and other courts will set future court hearings to hear more arguments as to why you deserve to have your case expunged.
Can I Answer “No” When Asked if I’ve Ever Been Convicted, Once My Expungement is Granted?
In almost all cases – Yes. You do not have to disclose expunged convictions except in a few specific instances, like applying for a government job.
Can You Make My Felony Into a Misdemeanor and Still Have it Expunged?
If you were convicted of a felony that is known as a “wobbler,” that means you were guilty of a crime that the state can classify as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the offense. For example, PC 422, known as criminal threats, can be filed by the prosecutor as a misdemeanor or felony. The prosecutor will make that decision based on how egregious the conduct is. A minor threat would almost certainly not be a felony, while a severe, specific, and violent threat would normally go towards a felony.
If you were convicted of a felony on a crime that can be a “wobbler,” we would first petition the court to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor on your record. This is known as a PC 17b reduction. Once it has been successfully reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, we file a motion to expunge the misdemeanor so the entire case was reduced and then dismissed completely.
I’m Still on Probation But I Want My Case Expunged Now.
You are not able to have your case expunged until the probation period has ended. If you have an urgent need to have your case expunged early, the best thing to do is to have an experienced expungement attorney file for a motion to terminate probation early. Once probation has been terminated early, the court can then expunge the entire case. Courts are reluctant to terminate probation early except when there is a very important need to have it done. Some examples include:
- Not being able to visit loved ones in Canada with a DUI conviction.
- Not being able to accept a promotion at work
- Not being able to apply for state licensing while on probation.
At the law offices of Hart J. Levin, we have tremendous experience in successfully handling early termination of probation motions. We first draft a motion detailing the reasons why it is necessary and then set hearings to discuss in person with the judge as to why you deserve to have them make this exception and terminate the probation early.
An experienced expungement attorney will handle the entire process for you, from beginning to end, without you having to come to court in most instances. Not hiring a successful expungement lawyer can be very costly because once the judge denies a motion, the judge is not going to want to reconsider it for a long time. That is why it is critical to hire an extremely experienced expungement attorney to get it right the first time.
Contact Our Expungement Lawyers in Los Angeles Today
If you want your record cleared and a fresh start, call us now. Finding the best expungement attorneys can be overwhelming as many Los Angeles expungement attorneys offer their services for rock bottom prices, only to raise the price later when they tell you it is more complicated than originally anticipated. We will discuss your options free of charge. Your future depends on your record, and your record is best handled by a top-notch expungement attorney who can get it done cheaply and quickly.