Los Angeles Expungement Lawyers

Expert LA Expungement Attorneys Avoid Costly Mistakes and Delays

At my criminal defense law firm, we have successfully handled over 1,500 expungements in California.  Our expungements have been granted 99.4% of the time.  We use our knowledge of the courts, the judges and local prosecutors, to effectively file the petition using the exact specifications that the particular court requires.  This allows for the process to move along quickly and in virtually every case, successfully, resulting in dismissed charges.

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.

Having a criminal conviction on your record is a major blemish and will negatively impact your future.  Getting hired, looking for a place to live, trying to get a loan – these things will be much more difficult (or impossible) with a criminal conviction remaining on your record.  It is critical to your future to remove any convictions on your record. 

At the Law Offices of Hart J. Levin, we expunge cases that are new and even some old cases that are 40 years old.  It doesn’t matter when the conviction happened. We can still have the charge removed through an expungement in California courts. 

What is an Expungement?

In simple laymen terms, an expungement is the best case scenario if you’ve been convicted of a crime–the conviction is wiped clean from your record. It is a process where someone who has been convicted in criminal court can petition the court to remove the conviction, showing “not guilty” and that the case was “dismissed.”

Here’s the definition of an expungement according to the American Bar Association: To ‘expunge’ is to ‘erase or remove completely.’ In law, ‘expungement’ is the process by which a record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from state or federal record. An expungement order directs the court to treat the criminal conviction as if it had never occurred, essentially removing it from a defendant’s criminal record as well as, ideally, the public record.”

Who Qualifies For an Expungement in California?

Most people are eligible to have their conviction removed, “sealed” or erased through expungement. 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 under California penal code 1203.4

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.

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.

What Are Examples of Crimes That Are Frequently Expunged?

People want their convictions expunged because they want to have a clean background.  Most charges are eligible to be expunged.  Most commonly, DUI charges and domestic violence charges are expunged.  

Without an expungement, those charges will cause several negative consequences, including being unable to pass a background check, the inability to find housing or get loans, the inability to possess weapons, and even the ability to travel out of the United States.  Certain countries (for example, Canada) will not allow someone in the country with a DUI on their criminal record until the case has been successfully expunged. 

What Felonies Can Be Expunged in California?

Most felonies can be expunged.  Again, the main question is whether or not the individual received probation or was denied probation and sent to state prison.  If probation was granted and successfully completed, the charge can be expunged.  If the individual violates probation by not following the court’s orders, or gets arrested for a new charge, the court will typically deny the request for expungement.  

Interestingly, some felonies can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor, known as a wobbler.  This means that the district attorney will decide whether to file a felony or misdemeanor based on the severity of the case.  Let’s take a domestic violence charge for example.  The DA typically files these as felonies. 

Often times we can negotiate with the court and district attorney to allow for something called a “17b reduction,” meaning that the charge is automatically lowered from a felony to a misdemeanor.  Once the 17b reduction is complete, we can then have the misdemeanor fully expunged as well.  It’s a useful tool in court.  The felony conviction goes down to a misdemeanor and then the misdemeanor conviction is erased.

Example of A Successful Expungement in California

We handled a complicated drug sales case where the DA requested 8 years in prison and we were able to get our client probation with some county jail time.  Our client did all that was required of him by the court and at the end of the two year probation period, the court granted the expungement and removed the drug conviction.  

What Crimes Cannot Be Expunged in California?

Any crime that results in a state prison sentence is automatically excluded from expungement eligibility.  Many felonies can result in prison.  Murder, for instance, would not be expungable.  A DUI felony with a state prison sentence is also not expungeable.  However, a felony DUI conviction where the individual was sentenced to probation and county jail time (up to one year) is eligible to be expunged, once probation has been successfully completed.  

Once successfully expunged, an individual does not need to disclose the conviction on job applications.  Potential employers are not allowed to consider an expunged conviction as a basis for employment denial.  

Do I Need a Lawyer to Expunge My Record in California?

Yes.  Expungements have very specific requirements and the requirements differ based on the location of the case and the charge type.  There are certain court documents that must be completed and even a single mistake on the documents will invalidate the motion and cause the court to deny the motion.  

Some courts require a written declaration from the individual requesting the dismissal, while some others require a formal hearing in front of a judge and prosecutor.  Any mistakes lead to an automatic denial.  That is why it is critical to have a trained expert handle the expungement so that it gets done to the exact court specifications and is granted on the first attempt.  

Knowing the judges and prosecutors and their unique preferences make it very simple for us to successfully complete the expungement process for each of our clients. 

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.

As expungement attorneys, we 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 motio

How Much Does a California Expungement Typically Cost?

Anyone who is convicted of a crime in California, who is not sentenced to state prison, is generally eligible to have the conviction removed from their criminal record through a process known as expungement.  An expungement takes the guilty or no contest plea or conviction and removes it, switching it to not guilty and dismissed, pursuant to PC 1203.4.  Each individual  courthouse in California treats expungements differently. 

Some require hearings to argue the reasons why the individual deserves to have the conviction expunged while other courts only require a written declaration from the individual explaining why they deserve to have the conviction removed.  The price of an expungement varies depending on the level of charge (felony or misdemeanor), the difficulty of the particular court, the aggravating factors in the case, any prior criminal history and whether or not the individual successfully completed the terms of their probation without any probation violations.  

Expungements typically range from $500 on the very low end to $2500 depending on the complexity of the motion.  Courts generally require a “filing fee” of $120 to submit the expungement paperwork to the court.  

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.

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.

Other California Expungement FAQs

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.

Can my case by expunged in California while I'm still on probation?

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 Expert 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.

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