Category Archives:Criminal record

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Sealing Juvenile Records in California

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Are prospective employers, state licensing agencies, lenders, landlords, and school officials discriminating against you based on your indiscretion as a youth?

If you have a juvenile criminal record, now is the time to have it sealed.  Despite common misperception, juvenile records are not automatically sealed once you turn 18.  In fact, these records will remain accessible until you obtain a judicial order to seal and destroy them.

We can help you seal your California juvenile criminal record so that you may proudly present yourself as the most qualified candidate. 

What’s in a California Arrest Record?
Your California juvenile record includes every report and court record having to do with any criminal activity you were involved in as a minor (that is, while you were under 18). This includes: arrest reports, judge’s findings and rulings, exhibits, and probation reports.

Cleaning up your Criminal Record – Sealing Juvenile Records

When the court grants your petition to “seal” these records, it closes your file so that these documents essentially cease to exist. They are no longer public records.

The whole point of the process is to alleviate further stigmatization of a former juvenile offender. So, after you seal your juvenile records, you can answer “no” if you are ever asked:

  1. if you were ever arrested,
  2. if you have a criminal record, or
  3. even if you have a sealed record.
Under California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 781, you have the legal right to seal your juvenile records. This right is available in most juvenile cases, with certain exceptions. In order to seal your juvenile record, your juvenile law attorney must petition the court and your probation officer to have your record sealed.
How to Qualify to Have Your Juvenile Records Sealed
Typically, your attorney is entitled to petition the juvenile court to seal your records once you turn 18 years old. However, some courts require a period of “good behavior” between the end of juvenile probation and the filing of a petition. You must also pay in full all previous fines or restitution owed to the court as an adult or juvenile, including any traffic fines.
You must not have been convicted as an adult of any felony or misdemeanor crimes involving “moral turpitude.” Crimes of moral turpitudeare those that demonstrate a depravity of moral character in violation of the accepted moral standards of the community. Such crimes include theft, fraud, sex, or drugs.
Your attorney must be able to demonstrate to the court:
  1. That you have been rehabilitated;
  2. That your case started and ended in juvenile court; AND
  3. That you do not have an ongoing civil suit regarding the underlying actions of your juvenile record.
If you were convicted for offenses such as murder, attempted murder, voluntary manslaughter, arson, robbery, certain sex offenses, kidnapping, certain types of assault, or any other violent felony, you may not qualify to have your criminal record sealed.
Having a juvenile record may affect your life even once you have completed your juvenile probation. It may make it more difficult for you to get a job or to go to the college of your choice.  Sealing your juvenile records can help you move on with your life.

If you have a juvenile record and wish to seal them so that you can be free to pursue certain opportunities, contact the Orange County defense firm of Don Ho, LLP who can help you restore your record to a time prior to any juvenile adjudication.

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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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