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6 factors courts evaluate for criminal expungement requests

On Behalf of | May 20, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Expungement, also known as dismissal, is a legal process to modify one’s criminal record. It can offer somewhat of a fresh start in life but can have limitations.

When people seek to expunge their criminal records in California, several factors come into play during the evaluation process.

1. Nature of the offense

Less severe offenses are more likely to be eligible for expungement. Misdemeanors and certain low-level felonies are commonly considered for dismissal. Meanwhile, serious violent crimes may not qualify.

2. Completion of sentence

Another significant consideration is whether the sentence, including any probation or parole requirements, is complete. Typically, individuals must fulfill all court-ordered obligations before becoming eligible for expungement. This includes paying fines, completing community service and attending required classes or programs.

3. Criminal history

The individual’s overall criminal history also undergoes evaluation. People with a pattern of repeated offenses may face greater scrutiny in their expungement requests. However, individuals with a single, isolated offense on an otherwise clean record may have a stronger case.

4. Time since conviction

In California, individuals must usually wait a certain period before applying for expungement. This waiting period varies depending on the offense but is typically one to three years for misdemeanors and three to five years for felonies.

5. Demonstrated rehabilitation

Showing rehabilitation is key to a successful expungement request. This may include evidence of positive changes such as steady employment, further education, participation in rehabilitation programs and involvement in the community.

6. Potential public safety concerns

The court considers any potential public safety concerns before granting an expungement. Serious or violent offenses may raise red flags regarding the individual’s risk to society. In such cases, the court may weigh public safety concerns against the individual’s desire for a clean record.

By understanding these factors and presenting a strong case for rehabilitation, individuals can increase their chances of clearing their criminal records.