California Expungement FAQ: Reliable Answers to All Your Expungement Questions

Questions & Answers: California Expungement FAQ

(Last Updated: 01/06/2020)

These are general answers to frequently asked questions about expunging a criminal record in California. This is not intended to provide legal advice. This information was prepared by California expungement attorney Richard Glen Boire to help you determine whether we may be able to clear up your California criminal record for you. Please contact us for comprehensive individualized legal advice.

What is an expungement?

An expungement is a special post-conviction procedure currently available under California law (most commonly under Penal Code, § 1203.4).

The process involves filing a petition in the court that you were convicted in and asking the judge to vacate your conviction and dismiss the case. In most cases, this involves withdrawing your old plea of guilty or no contest and entering a new plea of NOT GUILTY. The case is then dismissed.

A copy of the judge’s expungement order is then transmitted by the court to the Department of Justice, where it is reflected on your California criminal record and your FBI record. [Back] [Start your Expungement Today]

Do I qualify for a California expungement?

As a basic qualification, you must have successfully completed probation (rather than sentenced to state prison) and then completed probation without any major problems. You must have also paid all fines fees and restitution ordered by the judge, and cannot be facing any new charges or on probation for another conviction.

If you had problems on probation, don’t give up.

We’ve successfully expunged *many* convictions despite problems on probation by giving the judge a big picture of your life and showing that your criminal conviction(s) were an aberration. In fact, before we take your case, we obtain and review your official criminal record, and Mr. Boire gives you his honest professional advice (not a sales pitch) on what’s possible and best for you. Get Mr. Boire’s professional review of your criminal record and his post-conviction relief plan for you.

Do I have to wait 7 years before expunging my conviction? Is there a required waiting period before seeking to expunge a California conviction?

No. There is no waiting period for an expungement. You just need to have completed probation (or obtained an early termination). [Note: For a Prop 64 marijuana reduction or expungement, you can act even while on probation.] We’ve frequently filed for our client’s expungements the very next day after probation ends. In most cases, there is no reason to wait any longer, and the sooner you expunge your conviction the better.

Why retain the law firm of Richard Glen Boire for this?

30+ years expungement experience + straightforward fees + 1st class Bar record + full-service client-centered attention from start to finish. This is not our business, it’s our passion. [Back] [Get Your Rap Sheet]

Once Expunged, Will I be able to say I’ve NEVER BEEN CONVICTED?

Yes, in most cases. For applications to all private employers, you will be able to answer “NO,” if asked whether you’ve ever been convicted of the expunged crime. Your conviction will be marked as DISMISSED on your official California criminal record, and we provide all our clients with the judge’s court order expunging the conviction(s).

For most government jobs and government licenses, we advise our clients to admit the conviction even after it has been expunged, but to note that the conviction has been dismissed pursuant to Penal Code, § 1203.4. This informs the agency that your case has been reviewed by a judge and the judge found that you deserved all the relief afforded by an expungement.[Back] [Get Your Rap Sheet]

Can I Become a Nurse after a Criminal Conviction?

In most cases, “yes,” you can become a nurse after a misdemeanor or felony conviction. However, you may need more than just an expungement. We’ve helped many nurses. Please read our detailed FAQ on Becoming a Nurse After a Criminal Conviction. [Back]

Can You Expunge or Reduce a Felony?

Yes. In fact, we routinely reduce and expunge felony convictions. But, only some felonies are eligible for a reduction, and if you were sentenced to prison (not jail) it cannot be reduced. In many cases, we can even get felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors prior to expungement, meaning you are no longer an “ex-felon.” This restores most of the rights lost by a felony conviction, and in many cases, this will even restore gun rights. [Back] [Get Your Rap Sheet]

Can you reduce or expunge my old Marijuana conviction under prop 64?

Absolutely. Under Prop 64 (aka The Adult use of Marijuana Act), we can go to court immediately and seek to have your old marijuana conviction reduced and/or expunged. Read our Prop 64 Marijuana Expungement FAQ.

Do I Qualify for a Felony Reduction under Prop 47?

Prop 47 was passed in November 2014, and provides a three-year window (extended to Nov. 5, 2022) for reducing some felonies to misdemeanors. We can find out if you qualify and handle your Prop 47 petition. Learn more by reading our California Prop 47 FAQ.

How Long Does an Expungement Take?

With our system, you can get started immediately. We can often prepare and file your petition within 48 hours of being retained. In most cases, it then takes about 45 days for the court to rule on your petition. However, some courts are quicker and some are slower. We will keep you updated every step of the way. [BackHave RGB LAW GROUP review your official record and tell you exactly what is best for you.

Aren’t criminal convictions automatically removed from my record after 7 years?

No. That is an urban myth. They remain on your official Dept. of Justice criminal record for life. Under the Federal Credit Reporting Act, companies that supply background information are prohibited from including conviction information that is more than 7 years old, but many background search companies ignore this rule or claim that they fall outside this law.  [Back]

Aren’t old marijuana and other drug convictions automatically removed from my record, or sealed, after a certain number of years?

No! Contrary to popular belief, in California most marijuana and other drug convictions do NOT automatically disappear from your record after two or three years. In California, this only occurs automatically for simple possession of marijuana (not for sale, etc.), or for offering to give away or transport less than an ounce of marijuana. If you were convicted of these offenses in 1976 or later, THEN AND ONLY THEN, is your record AUTOMATICALLY expunged two years later. (And it’s a very good idea to confirm that this has happened- get your California criminal record). For all other California drug cases, including all other marijuana cases, a petition seeking to expunge your conviction(s) must be filed in court and granted by a judge.

IF YOU WERE GRANTED DIVERSION OR DEJ and successfully completed it, your case has been dismissed, but your records still remain public. We can SEAL AND DESTROY all court and arrest records of a California drug diversion case. [Back] End your Confusion: Have us review your official record and tell you exactly what is best for you.

What about Juvenile records; aren’t they automatically sealed when the person turns 18?

No. A special petition must be filed in the juvenile court to have them sealed. [BackHave RGB LAW GROUP review your official record and tell you exactly what is best for you.

I pled “No Contest” rather than “Guilty,” doesn’t that mean I can answer “NO” already if asked if I was ever convicted?

No. A plea of “No Contest” is identical to a plea of “Guilty” in California – both are considered criminal convictions and, unless expunged, must be disclosed on employment applications. [Back] [Get Your Rap Sheet]

Will I be able to own or possess a firearm?

A California expungement has no effect on your right to own or possess a firearm. It will not help, it will not hurt. There may be other options for restoring gun rights:

1) Depending on the conviction, we may be able to reduce your felony to a misdemeanor. In many cases (but not all) a felony reduction to a misdemeanor will restore your rights to possess a firearm.  [BackGet our Law Firm’s California Gun Rights Restoration Plan.

2) If we can’t restore your gun rights by reducing your felony to a misdemeanor, we might be able to petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon. If the Governor signs a full pardon, your gun rights will be restored. However, if you were granted probation for a felony, California law requires that we expunge that conviction before moving on to seek a Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon. To figure out exactly how to restore your gun rights, get our Law Firm’s California Gun Rights Restoration Plan.

What else won’t an Expungement do?

Even after an expungement, a court can still use the prior conviction to enhance your sentence for a new crime (for example under California’s Three Strikes Law). If you are a registered sex offender, an expungement will not relieve you of your duty to register. Also, an expungement does not mean that the court file is erased, destroyed, or sealed. Rather the conviction is marked as “DISMISSED.” What actually happens is that your plea of guilty (or no contest) is withdrawn, a plea of NOT GUILTY is entered, and the charges are dismissed pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.4 or 1203.4a. [Back] [Get Your Rap Sheet]

How Much Do You Charge?

Part of our mission is to make expungements affordable without compromising the top quality of our service. See our California expungement prices. [Back]

Sounds great, what’s the next step?

The next step is easy and you can start right now. We can pull your official “rap sheet” from the California Department of Justice. Mr. Boire will then review it within 24 hours and give you a professional plan for cleaning it up and establishing your specific goals. To start right now, just click below.

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