Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Start the Year With a Clean Criminal Record

The New Year is a time for new beginnings. If mistakes from your past are haunting you, there may be options available to help get you back onto your feet.

If old criminal convictions are making it difficult to find a job (or a better job), consider your eligibility for an expungement. California law allows individuals to have old cases dismissed after they finish serving probation. Once your case is dismissed, you can honestly say that you have no criminal convictions in your background. Employers may not legally discriminate against job applicants who have expunged their criminal records (in most cases). There are lots of criteria that you must meet before the court will grant an expungement. For example, you cannot have any other open, pending criminal cases, and you cannot be currently serving probation. Call us for a free evaluation to discuss your eligibility for an expungement.

If you are currently on probation, you may apply to terminate your probation early. Judges in California have the authority to release you from probation early if there is good cause to do so. Once a judge agrees to cut your probation short, then you may immediately become eligible to apply for an expungement.

If your performance on probation has been less than excellent, or if you have outstanding warrants, call us to discuss your options. Unfortunately, old warrants will never simply go away on their own. They will continue to plague you until you take some steps to resolve the issues. The longer you wait to address your warrant, the less sympathy you're likely to receive from a judge. The statute of limitations does not apply to active warrants. There may still hope to recall your old warrant and to get you back onto your feet without necessarily going to jail. Stop procrastinating and looking over your shoulder -- clear up your old warrants so that you can get on with your life.

California law also provides a few different procedures for reducing old felonies to misdemeanors. Under PC 17(b), a judge can retroactively reduce some "wobblers" in the interests of justice. A "wobbler" is a crime that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony at the discretion of the prosecutor. If you were convicted of a wobbler as a felony, section 17(b) of the Penal Code could provide an opportunity to get that felony off your record. 17(b) reductions can even restore firearms rights in some cases. If you have an old wobbler on your record, call us to see whether or not you might qualify for a reduction.

Prop. 47 provides another opportunity for individuals to reduce some felony convictions to misdemeanors. Since voters approved that measure, many crimes that were formally classified as felonies have now been reduced to misdemeanors. If you have old felony convictions for theft, drug possession, fraud, forgery, receiving stolen property, commercial burglary or writing bad checks, you might qualify for a reduction under Prop. 47.

Since Prop. 64 legalized the cultivation, use and possession of marijuana in California, people with old marijuana-related convictions may also apply to have those charges reduced or dismissed.

If you or a loved one has questions about clearing old warrants, cleaning up your criminal record, or reducing old felonies to misdemeanors, call our office for a free consultation.  (714) 449-3335. Ask for John.

We have extensive experience helping our clients get back onto their feet in Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino.

Thanks for reading.

Orange County Expungement Lawyer