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Clean Up Your Criminal Record

Having a criminal record can cause embarrassment and can often have serious consequences for your employment and personal life.  Fortunately, the State of California offers several ways to petition the courts to seal, destroy, or dismiss any arrest record or criminal conviction.  The Orange County criminal defense firm can guide you through this process by helping you meet the eligibility requirements, fill out and file your paperwork, and assist you with any appeals that may be necessary .
Find Out the Details of Your Convictions
In order to begin cleaning up your criminal record, you first need to know what is on your criminal record.  The court will require you to fill out forms.  Whether you are requesting a dismissal or a certificate of rehabilitation and pardon, you will need to know the details of each of your convictions in order to complete the forms.  Also, certain details will affect your eligibility for a dismissal or certificate.
There are several details you will need to know in order to accomplish your goals.  If you have more than 1 conviction, you need this information for EVERY conviction:
    1.  What is your case number — sometimes called “docket number”?
    2. What was your date of conviction — which is the date of your plea, verdict, or finding of guilt?
    3. What is the code name and section number you were convicted of violating?
    4. Was there a verdict or did you enter a plea
    5. Were you ordered to serve any time on probation (either formal or informal probation, since they are treated the same in your record)? If so, for how long?
    6. Were you ordered to pay any fines, restitution, or reimbursement?
    7. If you were sentenced to state prison, which one?
    8. If you were sentenced to state prison, on what date were you released?
    9. If you were released on parole, on what date did your parole end?
Get a Copy of the Information on Your Criminal Record
The information on your criminal record can be obtained from a variety of sources.  Here are the most common sources:
    1. Your court papers received at the time of conviction.
    2. Your attorney, parole officer, probation officer, or contacts within the courts or law enforcement community.
    3. The superior court where you were convicted.  They will only have information for convictions from that county and not other counties.  You will need to make a copy of all of your orders of judgment.
    4. The California State Dept. of Justice, Criminal Record Review Unit . They will have your criminal record’s information for the entire state of California.  Make sure you follow the directions for requesting your criminal record carefully.   You can also contact them by telephone at 916-227-3400.  There is a fee, but you may qualify for a fee waiver.  You must provide written proof of your income.  It may take several weeks for the record to arrive in the mail.
Figuring Out Your Options
There are many ways of cleaning up you past: early termination of probation, reducing felony convictions to a misdemeanor, dismissal (expungement), certificates of rehabilitation, traditional pardon, and sealing and/or destroying records.  Your options depend on your particular situation.
If you were arrested but not convicted of a crime, you may petition the court to seal and destroy your arrest record. You can ask a court to declare you factually innocent, which will result in the sealing and destruction of your arrest record. This will allow you to truthfully tell potential employers, licensing boards, and others that you have never been arrested.
If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony but never served time in state prison, you are eligible for a dismissal of your conviction. You must have completed any probation, restitution or other parts of your sentence; not be facing any new charges or completing probation on other charges; or, if you never had probation, it must have been at least a year since your sentence. The only crimes you may not have dismissed are certain convictions for sex offenses and a limited number of Vehicle Code violations. You can petition the court on your behalf to have your record changed to show a dismissal rather than a conviction, which may allow you to truthfully say you have never been convicted of a crime. However, this dismissal will not protect you in all circumstances.
If you did serve time in state prison, or were convicted of certain sex crimes, you may be eligible for a certificate of rehabilitation. This is a document from the court that says you’ve been rehabilitated. If it is granted, it will be taken into account in state licensing decisions; it relieves some types of sex offenders from the requirement to register when they move; and it automatically becomes a petition for a pardon from the governor. In order to get a certificate of rehabilitation, you must have lived in California for three to five years before applying, and you must have a clean record for a significant period since your release, which generally consists of seven years. You can help you file for a certificate of rehabilitation or directly appeal for a governor’s pardon.
This area of law is very technical.  Your reputation is one of the most important things you can possess.  If you have been unlucky enough to have prior convictions for criminal conduct you should contact the Orange County criminal defense firm of Don Ho, LLP to find out what options may be available to you to help clean up your prior criminal history.
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