Unfortunately, Californians convicted of felonies are often stigmatized in many aspects of their lives. Carrying a felony conviction may limit them from potential jobs, professional licenses, and business opportunities. Here’s everything you need to know about getting a felony expungement in California.
Am I eligible?
Fortunately, California Penal Code 17(b) allows any individual convicted of a felony “wobbler” offense to potentially reduce their felony to a misdemeanor. A “wobbler” offense is a crime that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The district attorney and judge ultimately decide how a wobbler offense is charged.
You must meet the following three requirements in order to be eligible for a petition:
- The felony must be legally considered a “wobbler”
- You must have been granted probation and NOT sent to state prison. County jail is not considered to be state prison.
- All felonies associated with that specific case must also be eligible for a reduction
If your felony meets all of the requirements listed above, a judge may grant a PC 17(b) petition to reduce your felony. The judge may weigh the following factors when considering a PC 17(b) petition:
- Your criminal history
- Your record of compliance with your probation
- The nature of your offense
- Your personal history
Will my petition for expungement be granted?
Your felony expungement is completely at the judge or district attorney’s discretion, so always be composed, respectful, and polite in any legal setting.
If your felony is eligible for an expungement, a judge will most likely grant reduction relief. After your felony has been reduced to a misdemeanor, many of your civil liberties will be restored. These civil liberties include California gun rights.
Contrary to popular belief, being convicted of a felony does not deprive your right to vote. Individuals convicted of felonies are only unable if they are incarcerated or on active parole during an election.
After reducing the felony to a misdemeanor, you may be eligible to petition for a complete expungement under Penal Code section 1203.4.
Pride Legal’s network of independent LGBT attorneys is heavily experienced in California expungement cases. If you have been convicted of a felony and want a fresh start at life, consult a Pride Legal LGBT Expungement Attorney today!
What an Expungement Can Do
You can truthfully answer “No” if an employer or creditor asks you if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime.
- It may help you with some job licenses and certificates.
- It can improve your credit rating.
- It can help you with housing and loan applications.
- An expungement can restore student loan eligibility after a drug conviction.
- It may help if you are trying to change your immigration status.
What an Expungement Will NOT Do
- It does not erase your record. The charge will still appear on your record, but it will show as being DISMISSED.
- The expunged conviction can still be used as a prior conviction to increase your sentence if you are charged with a different crime in the future.
- If the expunged conviction was a “strike,” it can still be used as a strike in sentencing.
- If you lost your firearm rights, it will not automatically restore your ability to possess a firearm. In some cases, you can get your felony reduced to a misdemeanor. Another legal option is to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon.
- If you have to register as a sex offender, you will still have to register even after the conviction is expunged. You can petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation after your felony expungement is granted.
- Some licensing agencies do not recognize expungements when they decide to grant or deny a license. You should contact the appropriate licensing agency about their policy.
- If applying for a government job, you must still admit your conviction if asked whether you have ever been convicted. However, you can note that the case was dismissed per Penal Code section 1203.4.
- If your driver’s license has been suspended, expungement of the conviction will not affect your license; it will still be suspended. Expungement does not affect your DMV record.
There are also certain criminal offenses in California that cannot be expunged, including some sex offenses.