Do it Yourself Felony Expungement in California

By Patrick Gleeson, Ph. D., - Updated April 14, 2017
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California offers persons charged or convicted of a felony an opportunity to clean up their criminal records through expungement. The state provides a straightforward do-it-yourself expungement process you can access online.

California's Expungement Policies

Expungement is the legal process that destroys the record of a criminal charge or conviction. Getting a felony removed has several benefits, the most important being that after expungement of a felony conviction you can legally state on an employment application that you haven't been convicted of a felony.

California Protects You From Employer's Questions

Once you've been arrested and charged with a felony, the charge goes on your criminal record. Subsequently, the district attorney may drop the charge or you may be tried and found innocent, but the felony charge remains on your record. In most states, this can seriously disadvantage you when you apply for an apartment rental, a job or anything else where the application form or the interviewer asks if you've ever been arrested or charged with a crime.

In 2014, California Labor Code Section 432.7 was amended to prevent anyone from even asking the question. The heart of the amendment states that "No employer, whether a public agency or private individual or corporation, shall ask an applicant for employment to disclose, through any written form or verbally, information concerning an arrest or detention that did not result in conviction."

California's Do-It-Yourself Expungement Process

California publishes a step-by-step, do-it-yourself expungement process that helps you avoid legal fees. You can also get help from your district's public defender. The online instructions, Cleaning Your Record, covers every step of the process beginning with how you obtain a copy of your criminal record. You'll need your record in order to make accurate references in your expungement application to details of your charge or conviction. Another section outlines the many circumstances that make you eligible for expungement in California. Following that, the guide explains exactly how to write and present your petition.

Some Felonies You Can't Expunge

In California, some felonies and even a few misdemeanors and infractions can't be expunged after a conviction:

  • any misdemeanor within the provisions of Vehicle Code Section 42002.1
  • any infraction within the provisions of Vehicle Code Section 42001
  • any violation of Penal Code Sections 286(c); 288; 288.5; 288a(c); and 289(j)
  • a felony under Penal Code Section 261.5(d)

The Vehicle Code violations include relatively minor offenses that result in a fine of $100 or more. The Penal Code violations and felonies are for more serious sexual crimes.

About the Author

Patrick Gleeson received a doctorate in 18th century English literature at the University of Washington. He served as a professor of English at the University of Victoria and was head of freshman English at San Francisco State University. Gleeson is the director of technical publications for McClarie Group and manages an investment fund. He is a Registered Investment Advisor.

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