The Simple Guide to Getting an Expungement in California


In California, previously convicted defendants can apply to have their criminal conviction expunged from their record under Penal Code 1203.4.


Our expungement guide will help you identify what the process will be, what exclusions apply in the state of California, and show you how your attorney and legal team can assist you through the process.


Why Expungement: Benefits to Clearing Your Record

Expungement offers formerly convicted individuals to remove certain charges from their criminal record through the state court system. Benefits to clearing your record of select offenses can include: ease in securing employment, building social credibility, and joining professional organizations that you otherwise would not be able to join.


On a background check, the expunged record will not show - and any type of sealed record will not be able to be viewed by third parties or check systems.


After expungement, there are very few people who will be able to look into your expungement or charges. Some possible exceptions may include court employees or judges, or select employers if you apply to jobs that hold public domain - such as the criminal defense system or the public education system with children.


The Process: Navigating Expungement

The process of clearing your record can be confusing, and that is why you should always seek legal counsel prior to beginning the process. Every state and every charge requires consideration, as some charges are unable to be cleared through the process of legal expungement.


Find Your Legal Aid. Your legal team can ensure that your case is eligible for the process and that all paperwork has been filed properly in order to expedite the process for you. In order to streamline the process, always be sure that you are fully prepared with your full case file, any other supporting legal documentation, and the state’s request for expungement or record removal form. You can find the form for the court system of California here.


Check Your Qualifications. It is important to check as you gather your information to ensure that you are not:

  • Currently charged with a criminal offense charge

  • Currently on probation for a criminal offense charge

  • Currently carrying out an active sentence for a criminal offense charge


If any of the three conditions applies to you, you likely will not be eligible for expungement.


File for Expungement. In order to petition the court for approval of your expungement, you need to formally file the petition through the court system. Your legal team can walk you through this process and work to mitigate court-induced costs. If you are in a difficult financial situation, you may not be required to pay court costs. Please consult your local courts and legal team to get a finalized estimation of cost and determine what can be mitigated if you encounter hardship.


Complete the Hearing. The judge will be the determining factor in the expungement case, and you will be able to get the final ruling at the hearing. If there are additional steps needed to clear your record, your attorney will be able to help you do this and file the appropriate attachment documents.


Before you begin…

Expungement can be a difficult and mentally taxing process. The path to filing on your own behalf is not easy - which is why it is recommended that you always seek legal assistance to ensure that your case is processed accurately and efficiently. At Arete Law we can handle your expungement from filing through the hearing for an affordable flat rate so you are never surprised with hidden fees or surprises.


When you are a client of Arete, we want to offer you a partnership as you work through your case - and offer flexibility in our payment options in order to be as accessible as possible.


For any inquiries, please be sure to schedule a free consultation by clicking this link.



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