Expungement of DUI Cases
If you have already been convicted of a DUI, you may become eligible for an expungement of your DUI conviction under California Penal Code Section 1203.4. An expungement results in a dismissal of your case. If you are granted an expungement, the court will set aside and dismiss the conviction. Specifically, the court will withdraw your guilty or no contest plea, or guilty verdict if you went to trial, and grant a not guilty plea.
Why should you apply for an expungement of your DUI?
There are several personal and professional reasons why someone would want to apply for an expungement. An expungement is not automatically granted, and will not be granted in the event that you have broken any law since you received your DUI conviction, so the fact that your conviction is set aside proves to you and others that you have learned from your experience and have lived a law-abiding life since your conviction.
On a professional level, you can truthfully tell private employers that you have not been convicted of a crime. What's more, California Labor Code §432.7 prevents employers from asking about any arrest that didn't result in a conviction, inquiring about it from other sources or use it in a hiring decision. Note that if you ever apply for a job with a public entity, or for a professional license, when asked if you were ever convicted of a crime, you will have to report "Yes, and my conviction was dismissed." Again, the fact that your conviction was set aside will definitely reflect more favorably on your character and indicates that you have fulfilled the requirements necessary to have your conviction set aside.
Additionally, most Licensing and Certification agencies in California will not grant a license to someone who has been convicted of a crime. The same is true for Governmental jobs. However, if your conviction has been expunged, most Governmental licensing and hiring agencies (except police agencies) are required to treat you the same as if you were never convicted of the crime.
What An Expungement Can Do For You
An expungement will reflect that your conviction has been set aside. An expunged record cannot be used by private employers as a basis to deny you employment. Also, in the State of California, Government Employers (except for the police) and Licensing Agencies such as the Department of Real Estate, Board of Nursing, etc., will treat you the same as if you have never been convicted of a crime if your record has been expunged.
What An Expungement CANNOT Do For You
An expunged record can still be reviewed by a judge for the purposes of increasing your sentence if you are ever convicted of another crime in the future. Also, an expungement does not wipe out your criminal record. Your criminal court file will not be physically destroyed, and is therefore searchable and is often discovered by private investigators and others who perform background checks. If your criminal court file is discovered, it will show that your conviction was set aside by the court. Accordingly, the Judicial Counsel of California advises that if you are asked by a private employer if you were convicted of a crime, you should answer "Yes, and the conviction was dismissed." In the case of public employers and licensing agencies, you are required to answer that you have been convicted of a crime and that your conviction has been dismissed. Additionally, an expungement will not automatically grant you the ability to possess a firearm, nor will it restore any driving privileges that were revoked by the DMV due to the conviction.
When Can You Apply For An Expungement?
If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor DUI in a California state court (a 1st, 2nd or 3rd DUI with no accidents or injuries involved), and were not sentenced to prison, you are eligible to apply for an expungement at the end of your probation term. If your probation term has not ended but you have fulfilled all other terms of your probation (such as CalTrans, community service, payment of fines) your lawyer may apply for early termination probation. Once early termination of probation is granted, you will be eligible to also apply for an expungement.
If you have been convicted of a Felony DUI in California, you would first need to petition the court to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor. So long as you were not sentenced to prison, and your Felony is reduced to a misdemeanor, you will be eligible to apply for an expungement.
If you served time in State Prison or otherwise were under the care of the Department of Corrections, you will not be eligible for an expungement, but may be eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation from the California Board of Prisons.
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