Understanding a Misdemeanor Expungement

A misdemeanor expungement refers to clearing your criminal record when your conviction was a misdemeanor offense.

A misdemeanor is a crime punishable by fines, jail, or both fines and jail. A felony is punishable by time in State prison. Both felonies and misdemeanors alike can be expunged.

A misdemeanor is a low grade criminal offense, but can cause you problems in the future if left on your criminal record.

This article explains the benefits and limitations of a misdemeanor expungement, as well as an explanation of the value California expungement lawyers can add to help you open doors otherwise closed due to your criminal conviction.

Benefits of a Misdemeanor Expungement

There are many reasons our clients seek a misdemeanor expungement. Usually, the top reasons for obtaining criminal record clearing relief include:

  • Employment (either getting hired or promoted)
  • Travel
  • Volunteer Work, and
  • Housing

No matter the reason you’re seeking to expunge your criminal record, it’s our mission to ensure you understand exactly what you’re “getting” when you “get an expungement.”

Meaning of “Expunge” Within a Misdemeanor Expungement

To expunge a criminal conviction means either one of the two following scenarios (depending on how you were convicted):

  1. In the case where you plead guilty or no contest (“no contest” has the same effect as a guilty plea) as part of a negotiated plea agreement with the prosecutor: your plea will be changed to “not guilty” and the charges against you will be dismissed.
  2. In the case where you were found guilty by a jury: the guilty verdict will be set aside, and the charges against you will be dismissed.

Still, the implications of a misdemeanor expungement can be confusing. One of the main benefits of an expungement is protection under the California Labor Code.

Misdemeanor Expungement Allows You to Not Disclose to Employers

Once you’ve obtained a misdemeanor expungement, you are afforded protection under California Labor Code 432.7, which allows you to not disclose the expunged conviction to an employer or potential employer if asked about it.

Typically, an employer or potential employer will ask you (either orally in an interview or in written form on an application) whether you “have ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor.”

The reason you can truthfully state “no” to this question is because, after the Court has granted an expungement motion, the legal effect is such that in the eyes of the Court, you no longer have the conviction on your record.

Limitations of a Misdemeanor Expungement

In the event an employer ever did a background check, your record will still show your criminal history: that you were charged, convicted, and that your case was dismissed under Penal Code 1203.4.

In other words, a misdemeanor expungement does not seal your record. Record sealing is only available in limited circumstances, such as:

  • Sealing your juvenile record
  • Sealing your record of drug charges after successfully completing a “deferred entry of judgment” program under Prop 36
  • Sealing your arrest record in the case where you were arrested and/ or charged, but NOT convicted.

Maybe sealing your record is not an option available to you, but an expungement is. Normally an expungement will be all you need anyway, due to the employment protections afforded once obtained.

Hiring Misdemeanor Expungement Lawyers to Help

As with any area of law, California expungement law is not cut and dried. There are exceptions, exclusions, nuances, and explanations. Our job as expungement lawyers is to remove the fogginess and answer the questions you have about the process, your eligibility, or any other questions you may have.

You can reach attorney Paul Denni for a free consultation by phone at 888-250-8450 or use the Contact Form on this page for assistance.

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