Having a domestic violence conviction on your record can give you a reputation that can be difficult to shake. You may have served your time and worked to better yourself as a person, but this red mark on your record can sour first impressions of anyone you meet – from potential employers to potential life partners.
Fortunately, expungement can provide a way forward. It can change your status, by removing the “convicted” label from your record.
Am I eligible?
Many domestic violence convictions can be expunged after you’ve served all terms of your sentence – which may include probation, fines, restitution and anger management classes. Misdemeanor cases can typically be expunged. For a felony, the case can often be reduced to a misdemeanor and then expunged – with some exceptions:
- If you were sentenced to – and served time in – state prison, then your conviction can’t be expunged. However, if you received a prison sentence that was later suspended before you served any time, then expungement may still be possible.
- If you were convicted of certain sex offenses, expungement is not an option. However, a certificate of rehabilitation may be a good option for you.
- If you are currently charged or serving a sentence for another crime, you cannot seek expungement for your domestic violence conviction.
How it works
In some states, expungement means that your conviction is completely erased from your criminal record – as though it never existed. In California, the law is a bit different. With expungement, courts will withdraw your previously entered plea or verdict, and they will dismiss your case. This can be extremely beneficial for your future career prospects – as having a domestic violence conviction on your record can give potential employers pause in hiring you.
Expungement doesn’t happen automatically, once you’ve served your time and paid your debts. There’s a specific petition process to the court, which your attorney can help you with. The long-term benefits of this process can be well worth the effort.