Attorneys Who Are Problem Solvers

Expungement Of Criminal Records

Orange County Expungement Lawyer

Our California law firm helps individuals and families seek a beneficial resolution to their immigration concerns. Immigration cases are complex, and our lawyers are adept at finding reasonable solutions in difficult matters. We can help you understand how your criminal record can affect your immigration status and what we can do to help you clear it and move forward with your goals.

At Brown & Stedman LLP in Rancho Santa Margarita, clients can find supportive guidance for some of the most complex types of immigration concerns. From fighting back against the threat of deportation to expungement of criminal records, our experience in immigration law and criminal defense law serves to benefit our clients. If you would like to explore the option of clearing your record, we can assist you with this process.

Why Do I Need an Orange County Expungement Lawyer?

You may believe that your situation is a clear example of a criminal record worthy of expungement, but navigating the legal processes necessary for successful expungement of a criminal record is far more challenging than many realize. Therefore, if you are concerned about your criminal record interfering with your ability to immigrate to the United States legally, it is vital to work with an experienced Orange County expungement lawyer who can guide you through the complicated proceedings the expungement process entails.

While it may be technically possible to file an expungement petition without an attorney, doing so is far less likely to succeed than an expungement petition filed by an attorney. Therefore, working with an Orange County expungement attorney is the best way to determine whether you legally qualify for expungement in California. In addition, if you are eligible, it will be far easier to navigate the process with experienced legal counsel assisting you.

The attorneys at Brown & Stedman LLP have years of experience guiding our clients in Orange County through expungement proceedings. We also have extensive professional experience handling complex immigration cases, so we are uniquely qualified to handle cases where the expungement of a criminal record and immigration concerns overlap. Ultimately, our goal is to help our client secure the expungement required to immigrate to the United States.

How Our Experienced Team Can Assist You

A criminal conviction can have a direct impact on your goal of obtaining an adjustment to your immigration status. It is smart to be proactive to learn how your record will impact your case and how we can help you address this specific concern. Our experienced attorneys can offer you the following services:

  • We will carefully evaluate your criminal record and your immigration case, determining whether or not it could be possible to expunge your criminal record or limit the consequences for you.
  • We will take the appropriate steps to seek an expungement, which is removal of a criminal conviction from your record.
  • We can help you move forward with the next appropriate step in your effort to seek the immigration status you want.

It is extremely important to revisit your criminal history to determine if your past could have an impact on your future opportunities. This requires experience in both criminal law and immigration law, and our lawyers are uniquely qualified to serve you in both areas.

How to Qualify for Expungement in California

Every state upholds unique laws pertaining to expungement of criminal offenses. For example, in California, the criminal court system only allows expungement of a criminal offense when an expungement case meets the appropriate eligibility criteria. To qualify for an expungement, the following conditions must be met:

  • The defendant must have completed any probation required for the offense in question. For example, if the defendant was sentenced to three years of probation, they could not file for expungement until the end of that three-year term. If they were sentenced to jail time and other penalties, they must complete their incarceration term and all other sentencing conditions before petitioning for expungement.
  • The defendant did not serve time in state prison for the offense. Most minor crimes and nonviolent misdemeanors will lead to incarceration in county jail if incarceration is required in sentencing. Most felonies, especially violent crimes, will not qualify for expungement in California.
  • If the defendant did serve time in state prison but would have spent their incarceration term in county jail under Proposition 47’s realignment law, their offense may qualify for expungement.

Your Orange County expungement attorney can help you determine whether the offense you want to have expunged meets these eligibility criteria.

Important Note for Marijuana-Related Offenses in California

California was one of the first states to decriminalize marijuana for medical and recreational use. Anyone with a marijuana-related offense prosecuted before this significant change in the law qualifies for expungement. If a defendant’s case involved multiple criminal offenses, including a marijuana-related offense, only the marijuana-related charge might be eligible for expungement. The California Department of Justice automatically completed this process before July 1, 2020. If you had a previous marijuana-related conviction automatically expunged through this process, any related charges in past cases might remain on your record, and some of these may qualify for expungement as well.

What Offenses Do Not Qualify for Expungement?

A criminal record of any kind can interfere with your life. However, not all criminal offenses qualify for expungement in California. For example, any felonies involving crimes of a sexual nature against children will not be eligible for expungement. Offenders guilty of such offenses must remain permanently and publicly registered as sex offenders in the interest of public safety. When an individual must stay on this registry, the crime that led to their registration will remain on their record indefinitely.

If you were previously sentenced to probation but committed a probation violation during your probationary period, you may believe that you would not qualify for expungement for the offense in question. While it will be more difficult, it is not impossible to expunge a criminal offense if you did not complete probation or if you committed a probation violation. The Orange County criminal court can arrange a special hearing that will allow you to explain the nature of your probation violation and make your case for an exception.

A defendant is not eligible to have a previous conviction expunged if they are currently on trial for a different offense, if they are currently on probation for a prior criminal conviction, or if they are currently incarcerated for a previous conviction. Similarly, the defendant is not eligible for expungement if they served time in state prison for the conviction in question and the offense does not meet the eligibility criteria for realignment under Proposition 47.

What Is Proposition 47?

California lawmakers recently approved Proposition 47, which established a realignment statute that reassigned penalties and offense designations for many criminal offenses. For example, many nonviolent drug-related offenses prosecuted at the felony level were realigned to the misdemeanor level. This led to many California residents qualifying for expungement when they did not previously qualify before Proposition 47.

If you are unsure whether a prior conviction was realigned under Proposition 47, you should meet with an Orange County expungement lawyer and discuss your case. If your prior conviction was reassigned to a lighter offense designation, you could begin the expungement process immediately and have the record of the offense formally removed.

How the Expungement Process Works

When an individual believes that a prior criminal record is eligible for expungement, they should work with an experienced Orange County expungement attorney to complete the process. It begins with extensive paperwork, and the individual seeking expungement should prepare for a lengthy process of submitting their petition for consideration. The petition must include the identifying information of the case in question, indicate the offense or offenses for which the petitioner is seeking expungement, and any supporting documentation submitted with the petition.

Once an expungement petition is submitted to the court, the court will then have discretionary power as to whether the offense in question qualifies for expungement. For example, if the defendant was convicted of the offense after entering a plea of not guilty, the court might decide to set aside the guilty verdict. Alternatively, if the defendant entered a guilty plea or a plea of no contest to the offense in question, the court may permit them to submit a new not guilty plea.

The judge overseeing the expungement process will evaluate multiple factors to determine whether the offense in question should be expunged. Some of the factors that weigh into this decision include:

  • The nature of the offense in question. While a specific conviction may technically qualify for expungement, the judge may rule that the offense should remain on the public record in the interest of public safety.
  • The petitioner’s behavior following the conviction in question. If the petitioner completed their probation without issue and met all requirements regarding fines and other penalties, this will cast a favorable light on their petition.
  • Whether the petitioner committed any other criminal offenses between the offense in question and their petition.
  • Facts establishing the good character and rehabilitation of the petitioner. The petitioner may make a compelling case that the offense in question was a one-time mistake made from poor judgment and that they are committed to being a safe and helpful member of their community. Character references from family members, employers, co-workers, neighbors, and spiritual leaders may assist a petitioner in making their case of good character.

Your Orange County expungement attorney will assist you in compiling your case, helping you gather whatever evidence they believe will support your petition. The expungement process is lengthy, sometimes taking several months to conclude, but once it is complete and your expungement is approved, you can enjoy several immediate benefits.

What Happens If the Judge Denies My Petition for Expungement?

Having your expungement petition denied can be disheartening, but this does not necessarily mean that you can never have the record in question expunged. If a judge denies your petition for expungement, you must wait six months before refiling your petition. An Orange County expungement attorney can be a helpful asset in this endeavor. Your petition may require several changes before a judge will approve it.

Benefits of Expungement in Orange County, CA

The primary benefit of having a past criminal conviction expunged is removing the conviction from your permanent criminal record. This can benefit anyone seeking a new job, applying to college, striving to obtain a professional license, or joining a particular organization. In addition, an expunged record will no longer affect most background checks. In California, employers cannot discriminate against job applicants based on expunged criminal records.

Expungement Can Help You With the Immigration Process

Expungement can also be beneficial to the immigration process if you or your loved one is not yet a naturalized US citizen. Many criminal offenses will permanently disqualify an individual from formal immigration, but expunged records will not. Therefore, if you have any criminal record preventing you from immigrating to the US, but the offense qualifies for expungement under California state law, the process could be a valuable stepping stone to formal immigration.

What to Expect From Your Orange County Expungement Lawyer

When you intend to file a petition for expungement in Orange County, an expungement lawyer is a valuable asset for all stages of this process. Your attorney can first advise you whether you can have the record expunged and if doing so can assist you in an immigration case. Then, if your attorney believes the offense qualifies for expungement, they will guide you through the process of creating your petition. This petition will be lengthy, detailed, and have a strong bearing on the outcome of your case. Therefore, it’s vital to work with an attorney who is experienced in handling complex expungement cases to ensure your petition is as strong as possible.

At your expungement hearing, your attorney may speak on your behalf and help you testify to make your case for expungement. If the judge approves your expungement petition, your attorney will help you understand what this means for your immigration case and what to expect following the hearing. If your petition is denied, you can work with your Orange County expungement attorney to modify your petition as needed so you can refile it in six months.

We Have Experience With Expungement/Immigration Cases

Brown & Stedman LLP has the experience and resources necessary for handling the most challenging expungement cases. In addition, we have specific experience handling expungement cases that pertain to immigration cases. If you believe that an expungement could benefit an immigration case and provide other benefits to your personal and professional life, we will assist you in the problematic proceedings you face.

Your Past Does Not Have To Define Your Future

Our goal is to protect your rights and interests, which can include seeking an expungement of your criminal record for the benefit of your immigration case. If you think this could be an option for you, contact our firm to schedule a free consultation with a lawyer. We represent clients in Costa Mesa and nearby communities.

Learn More About What We Can Do To Help

We invite you to call us at 949-459-5900 to schedule your free initial consultation. You can also reach our firm by contacting us online.

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