Riverside Expungement Attorney

Months or years after a criminal act, many individuals express the desire to remove their responsibilities and ties to a criminal conviction, sealing their record. Fortunately, this process–known as expungement—is available to many and is fairly common, especially in juvenile cases. Expungement allows those convicted of a crime to achieve a fresh start.

At the Law Offices of Schwartz & Godbey, we treat each of our clients with dignity and respect, regardless of the allegations they may face or the crimes they have committed in the past. Our experienced criminal defense and expungement attorneys are willing to fight for our clients and provide them with the representation they deserve. We understand just how complex the legal system can be and are here to help you every step of the way, including petitions for expungement.

What Is Expungement?

The word expungement itself means to remove or erase something. It makes sense, then, that in the legal world, expungement is the process of erasing criminal charges or sealing a criminal record so that it is no longer shared information.

Under California Penal Code 1203.4, an expungement is a process allowing you to legally state that you are relieved of your responsibility to disclose a prior arrest and conviction. It also releases the defendant from the penalties of their conviction.

Through an expungement, you can withdraw a plea of guilty or no contest, replacing it by entering a plea of not guilty. While not completely a clean slate, it does allow certain job applicants to state that they have never been arrested or convicted of a crime. For many who have turned their lives around, it represents a fresh start.

When Are You Eligible for an Expungement in California?

Expungement is an effective avenue for achieving a new beginning, but the process is not suitable for everyone. An individual convicted of a misdemeanor or felony in the state of California may be eligible for expungement if:

  • They have successfully completed probation for the criminal conviction.
  • They have waited at least one year from the date of the criminal conviction if no probation was assigned.
  • Their probation was terminated early by the court.
  • They did not serve time in a state prison.

An individual is not eligible for expungement in California if:

  • They are currently on probation for a criminal conviction.
  • They are currently charged with another criminal offense.
  • They are currently incarcerated for a criminal conviction.

Individuals not deemed eligible for expungement must wait until they meet the above requirements to file a petition.

How Do You File for an Expungement in California? Can a Public Defender Help?

Filing a petition for expungement can be a difficult process on your own, especially when it comes to the various documents and hearings involved. As a result, most experts recommend that you hire a trusted Riverside expungements attorney before you begin navigating the proceedings. Public defenders are skilled attorneys, but often have extremely heavy caseloads that prevent them from devoting a great deal of time to any one case.

Here is an overview of the steps necessary to file for an expungement in California:

  1. Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney
    Without an attorney that is knowledgeable regarding the various aspects of criminal law, filing for expungement can be complicated. An attorney can help you ensure you are eligible for expungement and identify the information necessary to begin the process. As always, it is crucial to work with an attorney you can trust to guide you through filing for expungement.
  2. Collecting Information and Filling Out Forms
    Unfortunately, with most legal proceedings, there is a significant amount of paperwork that must be completed for the case to move forward. Filing for expungement is no exception and requires many different documents. Your attorney can help you identify the forms necessary for your circumstances, and help you ensure you complete them in a timely manner to work toward your expungement. Be prepared to share basic personal information as well as information regarding your criminal charges.
  3. File for Expungement
    With the correct paperwork in hand, your next step is to file a petition for expungement with the appropriate county court. While every court is different, some courts prefer that expungement forms are delivered in person instead of mailed or filed online. Your attorney can advise you regarding the appropriate procedures. From this point, it can take anywhere from 3 to 5 months to hear back from the court regarding your petition. The court’s eventual response will contain a date for your expungement hearing.
  4. Expungement Hearing
    In most situations, you will need to appear in court for your expungement hearing. Sometimes the defendant does not have to be present, and your attorney can work with the prosecutor and judge to conduct the hearing. At the hearing, the judge will make the ultimate decision whether to grant the expungement because there is no jury.
  5. Expungement Granted or Denied
    If expungement is granted, the next step involves the attorney sealing the case and associated records. Once the case has been sealed, you may state you have never been arrested or convicted of that crime. If the petition for expungement was denied, you must wait another six months before beginning another petition in California and trying again.

How Much Does it Cost to Expunge a Criminal Record in Riverside, CA?

The cost of filing a petition for an expungement in California varies depending on the court and the case involved. As a result, costs of filing for expungement can range anywhere from $60 to $500 throughout the state of California.

The process of expunging the criminal record after the petition is approved also depends on the charge at hand. For example, a misdemeanor DUI expungement can cost around $800 while felony expungement might exceed $1,000.

Limitations to Expungements

While expungements are an amazing chance at a fresh start, they do have their limitations that many people are not aware of:

  1. Expungement Does Not Eliminate Press or Media Coverage
    Though an expungement closes your case and keeps it from becoming public information, that does not mean it can remove previous press coverage of the case if there was any. An internet search can still reveal court records that are part of the public record, meaning that your original arrest and conviction are not completely erased.
  2. Expungement Does Not Overturn a Suspended or Revoked License
    An expungement does not mean that everything resulting from your conviction is erased immediately. For example, if your license was suspended as the result of a DUI, you will still need to complete the suspension period after expungement. However, you do not have to disclose why you have a suspended or revoked license in the first place.
  3. You May Have to Disclose a Crime for a Potential Job or Legal Interview
    While some jobs will allow you to avoid “checking the box” on an application, you must reveal this information if you are pursuing a career in law enforcement or applying for a state license.
  4. Expungement Does Not Remove Your Duty to Register as an Offender
    A granted expungement does not remove your duty of registering as a sex offender if that was the original charge. However, you can still have your record sealed.In counseling clients following a successful expungement, Riverside expungement lawyer Catherine A. Schwartz prepares them for the possibility of answering questions about an arrest and conviction. While there are still challenges, expungement is your best chance at starting over.

Should I File for Expungement?

If you were charged with a misdemeanor or felony in the state of California and are looking for a fresh start, filing for expungement might be a logical next step for you. Filing for expungement can help you start over in a sense, easing your anxiety as you try to build your life again. If you meet the above requirements for expungement, filing a petition is a critical way to ensure you will not continue to be hampered by prior criminal convictions.

By consulting with an experienced expungement attorney and petitioning for expungement, you may be able to have your criminal record and public information surrounding a case sealed for good. Don’t let a mistake get in your way—consider filing for expungement to begin attaining your life and career goals.

A Dedicated Riverside Record Expungement Lawyer Fighting for a Fresh Start

If you are considering filing for expungement in California, the Law Offices of Schwartz & Godbey can provide skilled guidance regarding the process. Our Riverside expungements attorneys will help you complete the petition accurately and completely and can represent you through the expungement proceedings. Filing for expungement can be difficult, and our compassionate attorneys are here to help.

For more information on how our San Bernardino attorneys can fight for you, contact the Law Offices of Schwartz & Godbey, or call us at 951-686-8190 to schedule a consultation with some of our trusted attorneys today. Our office is located right in Riverside and for the convenience of our clients, we accept appointments in the evenings and on weekends, as well as accept all major credit card companies.