Record Clearing Laws in California

In California, there are numerous ways in which a criminal or arrest record can be cleared or effects of a past conviction partially or totally reversed. Most people with a past record will qualify for at least one (or more) of these possible ways to clear up that record, so that it need not continue to be a hindrance or an embarrassment as you move through the rest of your life.

Attorney Ross H. Sobel has an abundance of experience and in-depth legal knowledge on how you can finally "put the past behind you." He can quickly determine if you qualify for some form of record clearing and if so, which kind via a confidential eligibility test.

At the Law Offices of Ross Howell Sobel, we can help you through any and all relevant record clearing legal processes and enable you to have a fresh start legally. Contact us today by calling 818-582-2350, and we will get you started with a free, no-obligation consultation and give immediate attention to your case.

What Are the Benefits of "Record Clearing?"

Expunging a criminal record, clearing an arrest record, and a variety of similar legal actions are available under California law. Each action has its own unique process, its own specific benefits and limitations, and is meant to be used in different types of circumstances.

We at the Law Offices of Ross Howell Sobel understand all of these details and work with them for our clients on a regular basis. We regularly win the desired record-clearing status and accompanying benefits for those who rely on us for help. We stand ready to do the same for you.

In general, record clearing services can help you get hired for a better job by hiding/erasing a past criminal conviction or arrest, eliminate one's "felon status," make it easier to get approved for apartment leases, make one eligible for student loans, give you access to college admission where it was formerly barred, and make it possible to obtain certain state-issued professional licenses.

Below, we'll look at some of the most common forms of "record clearing" under California law one an individual basis.

Expungement of a Criminal Conviction

You can get both misdemeanors and felonies expunged in California, if you qualify and go through the necessary steps. But getting a felony conviction removed is especially crucial.

Expungement works by technically reopening a criminal case and then dismissing it, thus eliminating any conviction as if it had never happened. Your criminal record will then reflect the newly acquired status.

An expungement will not fully eliminate a past criminal record, but it will eliminate the "convicted" status. It will allow you to legally say you were never convicted of said offense on job applications and interviews and in most other legal contexts.

In order to qualify for expungement, you generally need to have completed all probationary terms, paid all fines and victim restitution judgments, and be free from any new criminal charges.

You must also not have actually served prison time for the conviction (jail time differs from prison time here.) And finally, the crime cannot have been a sex offense - sex offender registration is often for life in California, and expungement can't help there.

However, there are numerous situations where a felony (or misdemeanor) criminal conviction can been expunged, even under less than ideal circumstances, IF you have an experienced record clearing lawyer working in your behalf.

And also note that if you've served 50% or more of your probation, and you can get approved for "early termination of probation" by a California court, you may well qualify for expungement even though you didn't finish the originally assigned probation term.

Restoration of Firearm Rights

In California, convicted felons lose their right to buy, own, possess, use, or sell firearms. But it is not impossible to get your gun rights back. An expungement alone will not reverse the loss of gun rights, but if the offense was a "wobbler," one which could have been charged as either a felony or misdemeanor, you can petition for a reduction from felony to misdemeanor under California Penal Code Section 17b.

After the reduction is successful, you can then further petition for an expungement. And it's much easier to expunge misdemeanors than felonies, so the expungement will likely be successful if the sentence-reduction was.

However, there are some misdemeanors that also cancel one's firearm rights. And in that case, it would take 10 years from your conviction date before you could get them restored.

Sealing Arrest Records

But besides expunging convictions from your record, the term "record clearing lawyer" takes in the process of sealing an arrest record for an offense for which you were never convicted.

California arrest record sealing removes the record from the public view. That will greatly assist you in living a normal life by preventing past arrests from coming up in background checks run by potential employers, landlords, and others.

It can be more legally demanding to seal an arrest record than to expunge a record. You have to prove factual innocence, for example, and process a lot of paperwork with the very law enforcement agency that made the arrest. OR, to accomplish much the same thing, you can petition for an affidavit from that agency stating you were "detained" but not technically "arrested" - and that distinction makes a difference when applying for many professional licenses.

For marijuana crimes, it's a bit easier to get the arrest record sealed due to the stipulations of Prop 64. And it's also easier to expunge many marijuana crimes as compared to other offenses.

Certificates of Rehabilitation & Pardons

There are some criminal convictions that, under California law, simply cannot be expunged. Normally, these are high-level felony crimes, though they could also sometimes be misdemeanors.

In these instances, you can still take positive legal action. You may be able to qualify for a certificate of rehabilitation from the court, which many employers and others viewing a background check will take note of.

Plus, a certificate of rehabilitation can help you get approved for many professional licenses, will restore at least some of your civil rights lost due to the conviction, and will automatically effect an application to the Governor for a pardon.

Eligibility requirements for certificates of rehabilitation normally include completion of one's prison/jail sentence and probation/parole period. And you must not have had further convictions and/or criminal charges against you, and you must have continued to live in California as a resident for a specific number of years (the time-limit varies based on the offense.)

Finally, a word about applying for a pardon. You can apply for a pardon from the state governor for any crime you've been convicted of provided you first qualify for, apply for, and are granted a certificate of rehabilitation.

At that point, the application is automatically done. You can also apply for a pardon when you're not eligible for a certificate of rehabilitation, but the process will be different and somewhat more difficult.

If you live out of state now or are seeking a pardon for certain offenses (especially for sex offenses), you have to follow the more traditional (non-automatic) pardon application process. 

If you file the paperwork properly, you will likely get a hearing concerning your pardon-application at some point. It's crucial to have expert legal help for both the application and the hearing to maximize the chances of the pardon being granted.

Why Choose the Law Offices of Ross Howell Sobel?

Attorney Ross H. Sobel, his associates, and his organization have spent many years building a reputation for legal excellence and integrity in communities all across Los Angeles and beyond. 

We at the Law Offices of Ross Howell Sobel have literally decades of combined experience on staff for each and every record clearing related practice area. We have a strong track record of successfully assisting our clients in getting their criminal records expunged, their arrest records cleared, obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation and/or governor's pardon, and a host of other related matters.

We keep ourselves available 24/7 for your convenience and keep ourselves affordable as well for your benefit. We give you and your case customized, personal attention from day one - we never take on a case and then neglect it like some of the "law mills" operating in the L.A. Area.

Contact Us Today for Immediate Assistance!

We at the Law Offices of Ross Howell Sobel have been fighting for and winning all manner of record clearing actions for our clients in the Los Angeles Area, and beyond, for many, many years now.

We will know exactly how to handle your case, regardless of your exact situation. Our team of expert record clearing lawyers can get started on assisting you right away and help guide your petition to a successful conclusion.

Contact us anytime, 24/7/365 for a free consultation by calling 818-582-2350. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you overcome the impacts of your past criminal or arrest record!

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The information on this website is for advertisement and informational purposes only. The facts of every case are unique and nothing on this page or on this website should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The information on this website is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship and viewing of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.