Generally speaking, California residents are eligible to have their records expunged — regardless of whether the offense was a misdemeanor or felony — as long as they have completed probation and are not currently facing criminal charges. Furthermore, expungements are generally permitted after an acquittal or commuted sentence. The law states that one is eligible for an expungement under the following circumstances:
The defendant either:
- Did not serve time in state prison for the offense, or;
- Served time in state prison, but would have served it in county jail had the crime been committed after implementation of “Realignment” under Proposition 47.1
Successfully completing a probationary period requires the full payment of any fines and/or restitution, as well as participation in any and all counseling programs and community service pursuant to the terms put forth by the court
Expungement & Discrimination
Recently passed legislation states that employers are barred from discriminating against a potential employee based on his or her involvement in any arrest that did not result in a conviction. Employers are also prohibited from discriminating against potential employees based on his or her having expunged a criminal conviction from their record. Simply put, they may not inquire about your criminal record when deciding whether or not to hire you.
Additionally, a successful expungement means that the individual shall be considered released of “all penalties and disabilities” arising out of the conviction.
Expungement & Immigration
Perhaps most importantly, expungement can help foreign residents potentially avoid deportation and/or denial of naturalization. Keep in mind that this does not guarantee protection against the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction, but it can certainly help. Indeed, Ninth Circuit law has found that an expungement following a simple first-time drug offense can often help an immigrant avoid mandatory removal and loss of immigration benefits.