Even after you have served time for a criminal charge, you may still pay for those crimes for years to come. Employers, housing managers, and other businesses can run background checks on you to determine if you committed a crime. If they do dig into your criminal record, they may decide that you are too dangerous to employ or be allowed to apply for housing without even getting your side to the story.
But you do have the option of expunging a crime from your record and protecting your right to privacy. In Orange County, an experienced attorney at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti can provide the legal guidance you need to get your case clear. We may even be able to help you with Orange County’s New Leaf Program.
How to Expunge a Crime
After you have been released from jail or prison, you may face difficulties trying to apply for a house or job. Most applications ask whether or not you have been charged with a criminal offense, and you are required to honestly answer this question. Many employers may automatically reject your application based solely on this question without ever speaking to you or digging into the specifics of your case.
However, under California law, you are able to have your charges expunged from your criminal record. This means, when you go in to apply for a job, you can honestly and legally say that you have never been convicted of a crime. To do this in Orange County, you must go through a legal process with the local court, which will determine whether or not your charges can be expunged.
In most cases, if you were charged with a misdemeanor and have completed probation – or have successfully ended probation early – you are eligible to have your charges expunged. However, if you are charged with a felony and are on parole, you will have to wait until after you have completed parole to begin the process. Not all felonies can be completely expunged, but you may be able to have a charge reduced to a misdemeanor if you did not serve time in a state prison or request a governor’s pardon. You should speak to an attorney about your criminal record to determine what charges can be expunged.
If you are eligible for an expungement, you can file a petition for dismissal with the OC court to begin the process. The court will then reopen your case to discuss the charges against you and your sentencing. At this point, your attorney can argue that you have fully served your sentence and should be granted an expungement. If granted, the court will change your criminal record to show that your conviction was dismissed.
Expungements are also an option for adults who were convicted of a juvenile crime after they turn 18 years old.
How the New Leaf Program Can Help You
As part of the Orange County expungement process, you may also be eligible for the New Leaf Program. This is a series of programs offered through the Orange County Public Defender’s Office that allow you to:
- Seal an arrest record
- Seal juvenile records
- Terminate your probation early
- Reduce a felony to a misdemeanor
- Dismiss a charge or conviction
- Request rehabilitation instead of imprisonment
- Request a state governor’s pardon
This program is extremely thorough and can provide additional relief when compared to a typical expungement. These services are available to individuals who were charged with certain misdemeanors and felonies, as well as juvenile defendants, and veterans who were charged with a crime due to a mental health disorder related to their military service.
What options are available to you can be hard to determine, however. In general, the court process is complicated, and you should not hesitate to discuss your case with an OC criminal defense lawyer. At Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, we can explain all of your options after an arrest, including how we can defend you against criminal charges, and provide legal assistance with an expungement. To discuss your case in a free, confidential consultation, call our office at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999.