Privacy is one of the basic liberties that we have under the law, but that doesn’t always mean that it’s guaranteed. It’s easy for criminal and court records to show up thanks to indexing practices by data companies and the long reach afforded by digital technology. That’s why first-time offenders can file to have their court records expunged.
An expungement is a lawsuit to have records of a previous court conviction sealed or destroyed—in effect, taking your court experience out of the public record. While it doesn’t absolve you of a previous offense, it does remove the information from public circulation. This can be a huge advantage when you’re faced with background checks from potential employers or you need a fresh start in order to get a professional license or certificate. Expungement can be your key to success once you’ve learned from your previous mistakes in the legal system.
What Does the Law Say about Expungement?
Crimes and offenses committed on the federal level aren’t subject to expungement (although some can appeal for a Presidential pardon). Most states, however, have some law that defines the terms of record expungement within their jurisdiction.
According to California Penal Code Section 1203.4, anyone is eligible for expungement if they:
- They’ve completed their probation and paid their fines
- They aren’t currently charged with a crime
- They aren’t on probation for another offense
- They aren’t serving a sentence for a crime
Once the expungement has been approved, the defendant in the case is then freed from all “penalties and disabilities” resulting from their conviction. In addition, California state law allows a person convicted in court to file a Petition of Dismissal. This means that they can file to have a case against them reopened and their original plea set aside, which allows them to honestly and legally answer a question about their criminal history without facing another conviction.
Naturally, there are limits to expungement. The following crimes aren’t eligible:
- Rape and sexual battery
- Felonies and misdemeanors against victims under 18 years of age
- Obscenity or pornography involving a minor
- Serious weapons charges
How Kestenbaum Handles Your Criminal Records
Perhaps you’re wondering how David S. Kestenbaum can help you with sealing or destroying your records. As an alumnus of the Southwestern University School of Law, Mr. Kestenbaum wrote a law review article about stopping erosion on “The Right Against Self-Incrimination.” He knows a great deal about the law and the right that citizens have to protect their reputation in the public record. He’ll bring the passion and expertise of his legal training to bear directly on your case.
In addition, Mr. Kestenbaum has nearly a decade’s worth of experience as a former criminal prosecutor. This experience in evident in the number of acquittals he’s won in his most recent trials, including a verdict of “Not Guilty” that was reached in a record-setting 22 minutes. Because his offices have never been far from the local courthouse or the District Attorney’s office, Mr. Kestenbaum has stayed in close contact with both prosecutors and police. He’s always been able to act quickly in defending a client and setting up a fair hearing in court.