When it comes to criminal defense in the San Fernando Valley, these terms are thrown around all the time. Basically, an expungement has to do with once a person’s probation is over or at least a year has gone by and you can get the probation terminated early, and the person hasn’t gone to prison and it’s a crime that is one that can be sealed, the person can file a motion and pay a fee for an expungement. It’s typically best to have an attorney do it so that it’s done the right way and you have the best chance at success.
There is no such thing as a true expungement in California where the record is completely wiped out. If an expungement is granted, it’s basically a dismissal. So, when someone searches you they’re going to see that you had a case and it was dismissed whenever the expungement was granted. So, even though this is something that can be done — and probably should be done related to a conviction — it doesn’t give the best form of relief. But in California, this is usually the best remedy if you have a conviction to get that dismissal under Penal Code Section 1203.4.
As far as a dismissal goes, you can get a dismissal in a criminal case. The prosecutors can dismiss the case. The judge can dismiss the case. There are various reasons to dismiss a case. You could get a jury not guilty verdict on your case and there are a number of different things. So, a dismissal is very close to an expungement in the sense that typically when somebody looks you up, they’re going to see that your case was dismissed, versus seeing nothing – which is of course what you want. So, that gets us to the seal and destroy.
Sealing and destroying a record will get rid of it. Unfortunately, there are very limited circumstances in criminal defense where you’re going to be able to seal and destroy a record. This term is usually used in juvenile defense because in a juvenile case, somebody can admit a petition, be found guilty, serve their sentence and then file a motion to seal and destroy their record. There are certain requirements that have to be met to file that motion. Obviously, you’re going to want to speak to your attorney about it because not all crimes are able to be sealed and destroyed and there have to be the right circumstances in order to get your case sealed and destroyed. Once it’s sealed and destroyed it’s wonderful because no one from the public can see it, and typically law enforcement can’t even see it when they do some sort of a record check. So, the key for seal and destroy is, if you get it the Department of Justice can’t find it either. People are checking for jobs through the Department of Justice’s computer, so if they can’t find it, then it’s basically as though it didn’t exist.
Another area where I see the concept of a record being sealed and destroyed is when it comes to an arrest record. For the last twenty-five years that I’ve practiced criminal defense in Los Angeles, it used to be that you could not get an arrest record sealed and destroyed unless you could prove that the client was factually innocent of the crime they were arrested for 0 which was a very difficult, if not almost impossible standard. You almost had to just be accidentally arrested, and then they say, we got the wrong guy. But if they did that, why would they put your fingerprints in there to even have to seal and destroy it.
New law has come out that if you get arrested and the prosecutors don’t file a charge against you, you can file a motion to seal and destroy your arrest record. You have a much higher probability of getting it granted now with this new law. So, if you have a criminal conviction and you’re trying to figure out what to do with it, you want to get the best end result for it. You have to sit down with an attorney because there are other things that you can do. You can file a motion to reduce some cases from a felony to a misdemeanor. Some Propositions have passed that permit you to do certain things.
There are some good things going on right now in California because the Governor has signed a lot of new laws and a number of Propositions have passed. So, figuring out whether you’re going to do an expungement, or you’re going to try to seal and destroy the record, or you’re going to look for an outright dismissal is something you need to do in coordination with a seasoned criminal defense attorney that has all the facts and circumstances related to your case.
Categorised in: Expungement