If you live in California and you have been charged with a crime, you may find that the crime follows you around on your record. This is why many people decide to go through with the expungement process, which is when you reopen your criminal proceeding and reverse your conviction. However, the process may not be as easy for some as it sounds. In the end, many people are excited to find that they can truthfully tell employers and landlords that they have never been convicted of a crime, which can help them in the long run. There are some things that you should know first.

For instance, some people believe that expungement and sealing a record is the same thing – but this is far from the truth. When you have your record sealed, the criminal record will be hidden from the public but the record is still accessible. With expungement, your record will be completely destroyed from the public eye. In California, the law calls it expungement when in all reality, it is just glorified record sealing. Your case will just show up as “dismissed” and that no guilt was found.

Are You Eligible? 

You may wonder if you are eligible for expungement or not. Were you convicted in state court? If so, you may qualify. However, if you were convicted on a federal level, you will probably not be eligible. Did you complete your probation or obtain early termination? Have you satisfied all sentence requirements such as community service and special classes? Have you gone a period of time without being charged with another criminal offense? If you meet these criteria, you may have a chance for record expungement in California.

Expungement is usually not allowed for serious felonies, including sexual offenses against children, murder, and kidnapping. If you believe that you still qualify after all these questions, you can file for expungement. Many people file on their own but many more seek an attorney because the process can be quite complex.

Expungement Process 

In many jurisdictions, an applicant will be required to deliver papers on district attorneys for an expungement. In many other cases, an applicant must prepare a legal document known as an “Order of Expungment” to be signed by a judge, if accepted. Either way, you the applicant, will probably be ordered to attend a court hearing for your expungement. There the judge will make a final decision on whether or not to grant your expungement through the California courts.

One of the reasons why an attorney is almost absolutely necessary throughout this process is because you must obtain all of the required documents to file with your application. Having an attorney ensures that you will not forget anything. If you have met the eligibility requirements and want to move forth, start with speaking to an attorney you can trust to handle your case today. This is the one surefire way that you can gain the closure of your records after you have been charged with a crime.