What is an expungement? An expungement is a way for you to have your record sealed for most practical purposes and therefore, give you a better opportunity to get a job and advance within your chosen field of employment. The best way to understand what an expungement is to visualize a drawer and before you get an expungement if you open the drawer you see your file and that you have pled guilty to a crime. Now most people think that after they get an expungement, when that same drawer is opened there is nothing inside.
They are incorrect. After an expungement is granted, if the drawer is opened one would see a your file, but inside the file it would show that you pled not guilty and the charges against you were dismissed. Furthermore, if you get an expungement, governmental agencies will still know of the crime, but private companies would not. For example, if you were applying for a real estate license, the State of California would still know about the conviction, but if they gave you your license, when you apply with Century 21, they would not know about the conviction.
Likewise, if you had a driving under the influence case and the charges were expunged and you receive another driving under the influence case the prosecution would still know about the prior and could use the prior conviction against you. Additionally, if granted an expungement, future employers may no task about the expungement, investigate it or hold it against you. If they do they would be subjecting themselves to criminal prosecution.
When can I have my record sealed? In order to be eligible to have your record sealed, you must have completed your probation which is usually three years. You must have paid all of your court fees and fines and you must have completed all other court ordered sanctions. You will not be eligible for an expungement if you went to State Prison and/or if you pled guilty to certain sex codes such that you
must register as a sex offender.
Do I have to wait the full term of probation (usually three years) before I can get an expungement? In order to be eligible for an expungement you must be off of probation. You may make a motion to terminate probation early and if your motion is granted, then you can file for an expungement sooner than three years. In order to have the best chance of success in having your motion to terminate probation early granted, you must have successfully completed all of the court ordered sanctions and have completed at least half of the probationary period (1 ½ years).