Having a criminal conviction on your record can create many long-term challenges for you later on in life. Even after you have served your sentence and paid any fines, you still have this black mark that follows you – creating hurdles in gaining employment, obtaining a loan or securing an apartment.
You may have heard of expungement as of means of getting a clean slate after serving your sentence. Expungement does offer many benefits, but it doesn’t mean the same thing in every state. It’s worth understanding what a California expungement does – and what it doesn’t do – along with the practical benefits it offers.
What is expungement?
Unlike in other states, an expungement in California cannot erase your criminal record to make it appear as though nothing has happened. Instead, it modifies the plea after the fact. Expungement rewrites the record: instead of showing a guilty plea with a conviction, it will show a not-guilty plea with a dismissal of your case.
How can this help me?
Maybe you’re seeking a new job. Or perhaps you’re considering higher education to gain new career skills. In any case, a background check will likely come into play. Expunging your record means that you will no longer have a conviction pop up in your background check – which can greatly improve your odds of a successful application.
In addition, when completing a job application for a private (i.e., non-government) employer, California Penal Code § 1203.4 states that an expungement enables you to legally answer “no” to any question about a previous conviction. This can be enormously advantageous in helping you to secure the job you want.
Don’t let a prior criminal conviction hinder the rest of your career. Working with an attorney experienced in expungements can give you a leg up in this next stage of your life.