The ultimate end goal with any criminal case is to be found factually innocent, seal and destroy your records, get a pardon, get a certificate of rehabilitation or petition for a dismissal by way of the expungement process.
Technically, in California, there is no such thing as an expungement. What really happens is there is the section of the code that says that after you complete your probation or your sentence, you can apply to the court for a dismissal. The California violent crimes expungement process is tricky, and therefore, it requires the services of an experienced violent crimes expunction lawyer in Oakland, CA.
For most case types you are entitled to it as a matter of law so long as you’ve completed your probation, met all the terms and conditions of your probation (like counseling, classes, restitution, or fines, and completed any jail sentence that was ordered. You will not be eligible to apply for a petition to dismiss your conviction if you were sent to state prison and there are a few specific charges that cannot be expunged:
- Misdemeanor Vehicle Code section 42002.1: Failure to Stop Vehicle for Inspection with prior evading conviction
- Any violation of Penal Code sections:
- 286(c): Sodomy – victim under 14 (more than 10 years older)
- 288: Lewd or Lascivious conduct
- 288a(c): Oral Copulation with a minor under 14 (more than 10 years older)
- 288.5: Continuous sexual abuse of a child
- 289(j): Forcible sexual penetration of a minor under 14 (more than 10 years older)
- 311.1: Distribution of child porn
- 311.2: Sale/Distribution of Child Pornography
- 311.3: Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
- 311.11: Possession of Child Pornography
- Felony violation of Penal Code 261.5(d) – Unlawful Sex with a Minor
There are very few exceptions to it, but that doesn’t mean that everything goes away unless you receive a pardon or a Finding of Factual Innocence, which is a process whereby you say not only was I not guilty of this, I never should have been dragged into court in the first place. Under those two circumstances can you actually eliminate the record of what’s taken place. Then the record is sealed and destroyed under a Finding of Factual Innocence. The records are not necessarily sealed and destroyed under a pardon, but it shows that you were ultimately pardoned.
A pardon doesn’t mean you didn’t do it; a pardon essentially means you may have committed a crime but you’ve since cleaned yourself up and deserve to be forgiven. With the exception of the Finding of Factual Innocence, which is 851.8 of the Penal Code, there is no delete button in the great computerized world of the court system that somebody can ever push to make all the records go away. There is no giant massive shredding machine where they take every piece of paper that ever was associated with the case and drop it through there so nobody can ever see it. That doesn’t happen rather with an expungement, it changes the language of your conviction to say that it was dismissed rather than saying that you were convicted. This is definitely still beneficial in terms of hiring especially with the recent changes in the Fair Employment laws (i.e. ban the box).