Imagine what it could be like if you could reverse a DUI conviction. The changes are a great reversal that could benefit your life. This is the wish of every DUI convict. The burden of a criminal record extends beyond the sentencing period. The consequences of an arrest or conviction affect your educational and professional pursuits. A DUI expungement gives you a second chance and a clean slate after the end of the criminal proceedings. The Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm understands the importance of cleaning your record after a DUI. Therefore, we provide top-notch DUI expungement services in addition to defending against DUI charges.
What is a DUI Expungement
A DUI expungement or dismissal is the process of erasing your DUI conviction records. It allows you to live as if you do not have a DUI conviction, for most purposes. A conviction limits you and exposes you to prejudice. You are locked out of jobs that do not allow ex-convicts.
In some cases, you will lose a job because of a DUI conviction. If you have multiple convictions, then society will view you as one who has a drinking problem. You will lose their trust. They cannot entrust you to a position of leadership or responsibility based on your conviction.
If you have a felony conviction, you cannot serve on a jury or hold public office. Expunging your records as soon as possible offers you several benefits and relief. Some of the benefits of a DUI expungement include:
- Employers and the public cannot view your conviction during background checks which increases your chances of obtaining beneficial employment
- You can legally say that you have never had a conviction on applications for housing, jobs or school
- Obtaining professional licenses becomes easier
- Private employers cannot ask you about your expunged conviction (if somehow your employer learns the details of your conviction, he or she cannot base any employment decisions on the conviction)
- Your career prospects improve after the expungement, for example, you can get promotions and employment in jobs that lockout convicts
- Joining professional organizations after an expungement is easier
- You get a fresh start without the burden of the conviction
- You can easily travel to other countries that refuse entry to DUI convicts
- You can testify in court without the conviction being used as a basis to impeach your credibility as a witness
Professional bodies, employers, property owners, and institution heads are prohibited from discriminating against a person if they have an expunged record. The law also protects you from having to provide details of an expunged misdemeanor conviction.
However, an expungement can do so much. Some of the things that do not change with a DUI expungement include:
- People can still see that you were convicted, but the conviction has been expunged
- You must disclose any criminal conviction (even expunged ones) when asked in a state licensing board application or when applying for a public position
- You must reveal
- An expunged felony conviction to the California State Lottery Commission
- The expunged DUI conviction still serves as a prior offense
Even with the few disadvantages, getting a DUI conviction, expunged is always advisable. The process of expunging a DUI conviction depends on whether you meet the set eligibility standards.
Employment Consequences of a Conviction
A conviction for a DUI offense can have negative consequences on your employment. Even after rehabilitation and a new sober life, employers will still avoid employing you or offering you better jobs or promotions.
Some employers have policies for the automatic firing of people with any conviction on their record. In addition, a conviction will keep your out of work to attend court appearances or mandatory drug treatment. The employer might choose to fire you for absenteeism.
Even with laws such as the ban the box laws in California, some employers can deny you employment based on your conviction. They can base their employment decision on your conviction.
AB 1008 is legislation introduced in California that prohibits employers from investigating your criminal history for a conditional offer of employment. A conditional offer of employment is one where the applicant must meet certain conditions and time limits before being employed.
This legislation prevents the employer from denying you employment based on your conviction without first evaluating your case. The law applies for both misdemeanor and felony offenses, expunged or not.
This law allows you to make an application for different jobs. Without the law, an employer could legally state that convicts are barred from applying for the position. However, the employer can ask about your conviction depending on the position. Some exceptions to these laws include:
- Jobs with law enforcement agencies
- Jobs that require employers to conduct criminal background checks or deny jobs based on the applicant's criminal history
- A job as a Farm Labor Contractor
- Jobs with state and local agencies that are required to perform criminal background checks
Some of the restrictions the law has on employers include:
- The employer cannot ask about an arrest that did not end in a conviction, a pre, or post-trial diversion program or an expunged record
- He or she cannot ask about your conviction during an interview or before making a conditional offer of employment
Note that, an employer can still deny you employment even after an individualized assessment. Therefore, it is better to have your record expunged since the employee is barred from asking about the conviction. The employer cannot use the expungement as the basis for employment decisions.
Eligibility for a DUI Expungement
California PC 1203.4 provides the laws surrounding the expungement of criminal records. The eligibility requirements include:
- You must have completed your probation successfully
- You did not serve time in state prison
- You are not currently facing a criminal charge
- You are not on probation for another crime
- You are not currently serving a sentence for an offense
Completing probation implies that you have:
- Met all the set terms and conditions including paying fines, victim restitution and attending counseling programs as required by the court
- You have made all the necessary court appearances, or have had an attorney represent you
- You have not committed additional crimes while on probation
Violating some probation conditions does not automatically bar you from qualifying for an expungement. Instead, the judge allows a separate hearing to determine your suitability for an expungement. If you have shown good conduct throughout the probation period, the chances that the court will overlook a probation violation are high.
If you are still on probation, you can apply for early termination or probation before proceeding with the expungement process.
PC 1203.3 allows a judge to revoke, modify, or terminate probation. Acquiring an early termination of probation begins with filing a motion with the court. You must file a motion at least two days before the date you are requesting the hearing.
You should also speak to the prosecution to explain why you deserve an early termination of probation and to seek the prosecutor’s support.
During the hearing, the judge will evaluate:
- Whether you are of good conduct and reform (you do not pose a threat to the society)
- The severity of the crime that led to your conviction
- Your criminal history
- The opinion of the prosecutor
- The probation is causing you any hardship
Probation can cause you hardships in different ways, including:
- The inability or difficulty in traveling for work-related purposes
- Difficulty in obtaining gainful employment
- Challenges in accessing credit facilities
Once the court grants your petition for early termination of probation, you can proceed to expunge your records.
The Expungement Process
The expungement process begins with determining whether you are eligible for a DUI expungement. The court is usually inclined to seeing the defendant spend as much time on sentencing. Therefore, they cannot approve your request for early termination of probation or expungement if you have not served at least 45% of your probation.
You can file the petition immediately after completing probation or as soon as the judge grants an early termination of probation.
You must fill form CR-180 when filing for a petition for expungement. The form includes:
- The name of the attorney and the state bar number (if an attorney is helping you)
- The name of the defendant
- The date of conviction
- The crime(s) for which you are filing the expungement
- The type of offense (felony or misdemeanor)
- Whether the offense qualifies for a reduction to a misdemeanor or an infraction
You must select the reason for requesting expungement, for example:
- You have lived an upright life since the conviction
- The expungement is in the best interests of justice
If you state that the expungement will serve the interests of justice, you must provide additional evidence, including letters or other relevant documents.
The judge reviews your petition to determine whether you qualify for an expungement. The expungement process takes between 6 to 12 weeks, depending on the workload of the court. You might have to attend a court hearing, especially for a felony conviction. However, for most misdemeanor cases, the judge will review your petition and issue a court order after making a decision.
If you qualify, the following might happen:
- You will withdraw a guilty or no contest plea and enter a not guilty plea
- The judge will set aside the verdict
- The judge will dismiss the case
The judge will serve the court order to the Department of Justice and the FBI to inform them of the expungement. Your record will then be marked DISMISSED instead of CONVICTED.
If you were convicted of a felony, the offense might have the conviction reduced to a misdemeanor (where applicable). It is sometimes possible to expunge a felony conviction, but it looks better if the offense expunged is a misdemeanor. One significant advantage of reducing a felony DUI conviction to a misdemeanor is that it cannot become a prior felony in future convictions.
Your lawyer can file a motion to reduce a felony conviction to a misdemeanor, together with the motion for expungement. A felony conviction on your record comes with a lot of stigma and limitations.
PC 17(b) provides guidelines and instances in which you can have a felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor. For you to qualify for an offense reduction, you must meet the following conditions:
- The offense for which you were convicted is a California wobbler, meaning that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony
- You were sentenced to probation as opposed to a state prison sentence
Even if you were sentenced for a felony and served time in county jail, then you are ineligible for a reduction of a felony conviction. You can apply for a reduction in your sentence after completing your probation. The court will consider several factors before approving your petition for reducing a conviction. These factors include:
- The nature of the offense
- Your conduct during the probation
- Your criminal history
- The facts of your offense
Sometimes, a judge can deny your petition for expungement if:
- You are not statutorily eligible
- Errors in filing your petition
- The judge thinks it is too soon to grant you an early termination of probation
- Violation of probation
- Your conduct after the probation period does not indicate reform (for example, if you are arrested for another DUI offense after probation, the chances of getting an expungement are slimmer)
- You have not paid restitution and fines as ordered by the court
- The prosecutor objects to the expungement
An expungement relieves you from the burden of a DUI conviction. However, the court can decide to deny the petition based on the factors mentioned earlier. Ideally, you should have an attorney representing you to avoid mistakes, such as wrong filing. Also, the attorney can defend you should the prosecutor object to the expungement.
The cost of expunging a record in California ranges between $100 and $400 depending on the court. The costs will also depend on the paperwork you file and whether you hire an attorney.
Alternatives to Expungement
You may not qualify for a DUI expungement if your conviction was for a felony offense, and you served time in state prison. In such cases, you can consider alternatives for relief from your conviction. The two options available include a certificate of rehabilitation and the governor’s pardon.
You can also apply for a certificate of rehabilitation if your record was expunged. The eligibility requirements include:
- Having lived in California for five consecutive years immediately before filing for the application
- You have not been convicted since your release from prison or probation
- You are not on probation for another offense
If you have proof of rehabilitation, you stand a better chance of obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation. Such proof could include:
- Evidence that you have consistently held employment since your release
- You have made efforts of reintegration into society and participating in community activities
- Letters of recommendation from friends, relatives or people with whom you have been in contact since your release
If you are granted a certificate of rehabilitation, people can still see your criminal record, as well as the certificate of rehabilitation. In essence, the certificate says that you are now a reformed member of the society. It also becomes an automatic application for the governor’s pardon.
The governor’s pardon is another alternative to an expungement. The governor, at his or discretion, awards convicts who have displayed exemplary behavior in prison a pardon. The pardon frees you from all conviction responsibilities and improves your employment prospects.
The governor pardons convicts after evaluating the case and the application you make. You can apply for the governor’s pardon directly or through a certificate of rehabilitation.
Why You Need an Attorney
You can handle a DUI expungement yourself. However, having an attorney representing you makes the process easier and faster. The attorneys have closer relationships with the court system; they understand the laws and what happens in the court.
If possible, they can push for your hearing to be held earlier than it could have been. Faster conclusion of the expungement is especially critical if you have pending matters that the conviction affects.
For example, if you are applying for a job that refuses convicts, then a faster expungement allows you to apply for the job without the weight of the conviction.
The first thing an attorney does when you contact him or her for expungement is evaluating your case. The attorney reviews your official criminal record to determine the most suitable relief for you. For example, if you are convicted for a felony DUI offense and serve time in state prison, a DUI expungement is not the right choice for you. Your attorney can evaluate your eligibility and seek the best form of relief.
The expungement process requires filing a petition and submitting it following the set guidelines and deadlines. You are likely to meet these deadlines when working with an attorney who is already familiar with expunging records. Your attorney could also handle the paperwork as you deal with other matters in your life.
Judges reject expungement petitions with errors. However, if your attorney handles the paperwork or guides you through filling it, he or she can spot and correct the errors before submitting the petition. Your attorney will also help in preparing other evidence or documents that support your case for expungement.
DUI expungement laws can change at any time. The codes are also related to other statutes. Therefore, if you choose to expunge the records yourself, you might need to conduct a lot of research. You will need to understand the expungement laws and the significance of other statutes to your case.
Having an attorney working on your case gives you peace of mind. You are free from the pressure of keeping up with paperwork, changing laws, and looming deadlines.
Finally, working with an attorney gives you the chance to seek clarification from an expert on a matter you do not understand. The advice of the attorney is critical during and after the expungement process.
However, if you insist on representing yourself, here are some steps you could follow:
- Conduct legal research to determine whether you are eligible for an expungement. Read the state laws requirements on eligibility and some of the factors that could exclude you.
- Next, obtain copies of your criminal records from the local law enforcement agency that prosecuted you
- Get and fill in the relevant forms for the expungement motions, note that, you might need additional forms for reduction if you intend to expunge a felony
- Attach additional documents that are required to support your request for an expungement
- File the forms and submit copies of the same to the district attorney who prosecuted you.
If you feel the process could be overwhelming, contact a DUI attorney for help. When choosing an expungement attorney, ask about the scope of their services. Some attorneys only handle the paperwork. They will not assess your eligibility for expungement or explore other options available to you. Therefore, make sure you understand what the attorney will do before you hire him or her.
Find a DUI Expungement Attorney Near Me
Most people think of fighting a DUI as the defense during the criminal proceedings. However, they fail to see the long-term consequences that exceed incarceration or license suspension. If the defendant is convicted, he or she sees the curtain fall on all the defense efforts. However, you can still fight the consequences of a DUI after a conviction through a record expungement.
The primary benefit of having a DUI record expunged is the freedom to say you have never been convicted for an offense. DUI expungement also provides other advantages such as better employment opportunities, limited access to your criminal records by employers, landlords, or institutions. You can handle the expungement process yourself if you have a good understanding of DUI, expungement laws in California.
However, we advise you to contact the Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm for the expungement. The help of an attorney makes the process easier and frees time for you to handle other areas of your life. Contact us today at 714-740-7866.