• Expunging a Criminal Conviction in California
  • November 18, 2008 | Author: Matthew J. Ruff
  • Law Firm: Ruff, Matthew J. - Torrance Office
  • California Law permits a person to withdraw his or her guilty or no contest plea after a person has successfully completed probation. In order for a person to qualify for this expungement relief he or she must satisfy a number of conditions. Most importantly is the condition that they complete their probationary grant successfully. This means that they must pay all fines and fees ordered by the Court, and all restitution must be paid to any victims. The individual must not have violated the terms of their probation in any way, for example the person seeking the expungement must not have sustained any new conviction or have been arrested for any new offense while on probation.

    The next condition is that they had not been convicted for any offense excluded by statute that bars an expungement of the case. The offenses commonly barred are sex offenses listed under 290 of the Penal Code such as child molestation. Notably, the California Appellate Court ruled in December of 2006 that crimes of "attempt" such as attempted child molestation can be expunged under California Law. Which offenses fall under the exceptions are limited and an Attorney should be consulted to ensure the particular crime qualifies.

    Once the conditions have been met, the next step is to file the petition with the proper Court requesting that the conviction be expunged from the defendant's record. Most Courts require fees be paid to file the legal petition, in addition the petition must be in the proper legal form and must be served on the appropriate agencies in order to be reviewed by the Judge. A Lawyer should be retained to be sure the petition for expungement is filed correctly.

    Once the petition for an expungement has been granted by the Court, the person can, in most cases, state that he or she has not been convicted of a crime for purposes of private employment. In effect the case will have been dismissed.


    A frequent problem is when a person wants to obtain an expungement early before their probation has ended. This often is the case when a person wants to clear his or her record in order to obtain employment or enter into the military or acquire a governmental license or permit. The process to obtain an expungement under these circumsatances is more complex and requires a Judge's order to terminate probation early before the case can be dismissed. Lawyers experienced with early terminations of probation and expungement Law should be consulted to ensure the motion is successful.

    A third scenario is when someone wants to seal a juvenile record or expunge a case which occurred when they were under the age of 18. The petition to seal juvenile records can be accomplished with the help of an experienced attorney familiar with juvenile law.

    Another common problem is encountered when a person is arrested but no criminal charges were ever filed against them in Court. Here, the ordinary expungement process is inapplicable because there was no conviction of any criminal charge. However the person will still have an arrest record showing the offense. In this scenario an attorney can file a motion to destroy the arrest record and effectively "expunge" the arrest. This motion is very complex legally and has many formal requirements which should be handled by an experienced Lawyer.

    Attorney Matthew J. Ruff has successfully obtained expungements and Dismissal of criminal convictions for both felony and misdemeanor cases in Los Angeles County, Kern County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County. The most common cases being DUI, Drug Possession, Assault & Battery, Domestic Violence, Theft, Shoplifting, Weapons Charges, Reckless Driving and many others.