Everyone makes mistakes. For some, those mistakes translate into contact with law enforcement, arrests, criminal charges, and, unfortunately, criminal records. Aside from having to the pay the price of a conviction, including fines and fees, community service, probation, and even possible terms of imprisonment, being convicted of a crime can create a number of collateral consequences that impact one's future and potentially place limitations on their personal and professional success.
At The Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman, Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Jacqueline Goodman and our legal team have worked with many clients throughout the years who had made unfortunate mistakes and were forced to face our criminal justice system. While all defendants have concerns about immediate penalties, they are also concerned about the long-term effects of a conviction. Fortunately, there may be options for convicted individuals to address the impact a conviction can have on their future.
An expungement is a legal process of sealing a criminal record. Whether you are eligible to expunge a conviction and how that expungement will work depends on a number of individual facts unique to your case and your situation, including the nature of your charge, the time that has passed since the conviction, and your criminal history, among others.
When available and done effectively, expungements can certainly provide several benefits, including:
- Sealing your record - When you seek an expungement, your plea will be changed to not guilty and records will indicate that your case has been dismissed. For most background checks, your criminal record will not be shown. However, there may be certain checks where an arrest or charge may be seen.
- Employment - When a conviction has been expunged, you can legally answer "no" when an employer asks if you have ever been convicted of a crime. This can reduce limitations that set you apart from other candidates who do not have a criminal record. Additionally, an expungement can help you pursue or retain certain types of jobs in professions that typically preclude convicted individuals from holding professional licenses or certifications needed for employment.
- Finances - Convictions can have an adverse effect on a number of financial endeavors, including credit ratings, housing and loan applications, and even student loan eligibility in certain cases. Without a conviction on your record, you won't be limited by questions of your past when seeking loans and housing.
- Closure - Expunging a criminal conviction can provide a sense of closure many people need to move forward with their lives. Aside from the tangible benefits that clear the way for employment and financial endeavors, you can benefit from the psychological closure of a mistake in your past, and pursue a future uninhibited by fear or shame.
California laws do recognize the ability of convicted individuals to "rehabilitate" themselves and learn from their mistakes, which is why post-conviction remedies such as expungement are available. By allowing certain misdemeanor and felony charges to be expunged, typically after completion of probation, California enables individuals to shirk the shroud of a conviction, pursue more opportunities in life, and navigate their future as productive and contributing members of society.
It is important to remember that expungements do have limitations and that they are not always the end-all solution in all matters. For example, some charges can still constitute a prior offense and be used to enhance penalties should you be charged with a new crime, even after an expungement. Certain professions, such as public employment, may also still require you to disclose a conviction that was expunged. Driver suspensions, registration on offender lists, and revocation of certain civil rights may also go unaffected after an expungement, depending on the facts involved. Our attorney can help you better understand how an expungement will work to give your unique situation.
The Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman is passionate about protecting the rights and futures of our clients, not only when they are under investigation or facing charges, but also when they need to navigate the criminal justice system to obtain expungements that can help them improve their personal, professional, and financial opportunities, and have renewed hope for the future.
Attorney Goodman has over 20 years representing clients who have faced all types of criminal charges, and who sought expungements as a means to improve their future. Her passion for making a difference in clients' lives can help you take the necessary steps to improve yours.
To discuss expungement or a criminal charge with Attorney Goodman during a FREE consultation, contact us today.