Having a criminal record can not only hinder your chances of finding gainful employment, but can also prevent you from being promoted, buying a home, furthering your education, and much more. The world is competitive enough without having a criminal record haunting you.
Fortunately, it may be within your power to regain control of your life and take advantage of any future opportunities that may come your way. By expunging your misdemeanor from your record, you are proving to society that you have changed as a person and are now prepared to move on with your life. Once your expungement has been granted, your conviction will no longer appear on most background checks for employment and housing, and you can legally say that you have never been convicted of that crime.
Before applying for a misdemeanor expungement, however, it is imperative to verify your eligibility. There are a few basic requirements for being eligible. You are not eligible if you went to prison, are still on probation, or have not paid all of your court fines. You are also ineligible for expungement if you are facing any other charges, or if you are serving another sentence. There are also a few offenses that are ineligible for expungement. The easiest way to find out if you are eligible for a misdemeanor expungement, or to find out if the offense that you committed is ineligible for an expungement, is to take a free online eligibility test.
Once you have established your eligibility, you can proceed with the expungement process. You should hire an attorney to avoid any detrimental mistakes, such as misfiling your paperwork, which could prolong the expungement process, potentially costing you thousands of dollars, or, otherwise causing your case to be denied. If, however, you cannot afford to hire an attorney, then you should contact the state bar association for a list of free or low cost options. You also always have the option to file the legal documents on your own. Hiring an attorney who is knowledgeable in the law and the process of expungements is advisable. In addition, unlike a public defender, a private attorney has the time to oversee your case and ensure that all steps pertaining to your case move as quickly as possible.
Benefits of Expungement:
There are many benefits of expunging a misdemeanor. Once a conviction has been removed from your record, you can say with confidence that you were never convicted of the crime – making it much easier to find a job, get promoted, find housing and avoid the many hurdles posed by having a conviction on your record.
In particular, you will be eligible to…
- Apply for student loans
- Apply for credit
- Apply for housing assistance
- Become a desirable candidate to be a renter or homeowner
- Gain professional licenses and certificates in Orange County (e.g. California contractors license, nursing licenses, real estate licenses, and other professional medical licenses)
How long does the process take?
Typically, misdemeanor expungement cases take two to five months, depending on the court. In Orange County, however, the expungement process can be expedited, meaning that while most cases are filed and assessed by the courts on a first-come, first-serve basis, the expedited cases will be shortened by several weeks. Some cases can be prolonged for such reasons as the age of your case, the number of counts with which you have been charged, if the District Attorney objects to your expungement, or if the court requires multiple court hearings.
How much does the filing fee to expunge a misdemeanor cost?
The cost of a filing fee for an expungement is usually $60.00; however, the cost may vary depending on how many charges are being filed. The law allows the court to charge up to $150.00. 1
Where do I go to file a misdemeanor expungement?
Generally, you will file for expungement in the same court that oversaw the case for your misdemeanor.
How do I find information about my case?
You can call the court clerk and ask for information regarding your case, or you can speak with an attorney who can research and access your case.
Here is a list of four Superior courts in Orange County:
- 4601 Jamboree Rd, Newport Beach, CA
- 1275 N Berkeley Ave, Fullerton, CA
- 341 The City Dr. S, Orange, CA
- 4. *700 Civic Center Dr. W, Santa Ana
*The Superior Court of Santa Ana is the only court that oversees felony cases in Orange County.
What are other necessary preparations to file for expungement?
- Letters of recommendation from anyone who can speak to the progress that you have made since your conviction (e.g. family, friends, employers, professors, and community leaders)
- A personal statement addressing the progress that you have made since being convicted of a misdemeanor
- Evidence of progress made since conviction (e.g. completed community service, college transcripts, letters of job offers)
1. Penal Code section 1203.4(d)