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What Is An Expungement?

State Bar Of California | California Board Of Legal Specialization California State Bar
Certified Criminal Law Specialist

A criminal conviction can come back to haunt you when you least expect it: when applying for a job, when renting an apartment, when attempting to obtain a professional license. The list goes on and on.

Individuals who have previously been convicted of a crime in California may be able to have their criminal records cleared through an expungement. At the Law Office of Gregory Hagopian, we help people seeking expungements. To find out more about clearing a criminal record, read the information below.

What Is An Expungement?

To expunge a thing literally means to make it as if the thing never existed.

The state of California allows most people convicted of a crime to eventually have their criminal record "expunged" and have the convicted "erased" for most purposes. This is found in California Penal Code 1203.4. If the Superior Court grants an expungement motion the Court will order that your case be re-opened, that the conviction be stricken from your public record, and that the case then be dismissed forever.

One of the important things about an expungement in the state of California is that once an expungement is granted for most purposes, it is as if the conviction had never taken place at all. In this sense the judge's action granting your motion travels back through time erasing the event from ever taking place. A person whose expungement motion is granted, therefore, can truthfully say when asked on a job application, or a loan application, or a rental application that he or she has never been convicted of a crime.

Who Is Eligible To Have His Or Her Criminal Record Expunged In California?

To be eligible for expungement under California Penal Code 1203.4, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You were convicted in a California State Court.
  • You were convicted of an infraction, a misdemeanor, or a felony for which you were not sent to state prison [1].
  • You have done everything the judge ordered you to do at the time of sentencing. This may include the payment of fines and fees to the court, or the payment of restitution to a victim. It also may include attending mandatory classes (such as anger management or DUI classes) and/or completing community service.
  • You were not caught violating your probation [2].
  • You have successfully completed probation, or, if you have not yet successfully completed probation, you can convince the judge that you should terminate probation early.
  • You are not currently being charged with, on probation for, or serving a sentence on any other criminal charge.

Or, in specific cases where you may have a conviction for a misdemeanor for which you were not placed on probation (this is very rare):

  • It has been at least one year since the date of your conviction.
  • You have complied with the sentence of the court.
  • You are not currently charged with, serving a sentence for, or on probation for any other criminal offense.
  • "You have obeyed the law and lived an honest and upright life since the time of your conviction." (This is a direct quote from the law).

Contact A California Lawyer For Expungements

For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Visalia, contact The Law Office of Gregory Hagopian.


[1] A county jail is not a state prison, and a police department holding cell is certainly not a state prison. Anyone who spent less than a year in custody almost certainly was not sent to state prison. This does not necessarily mean that nothing can be done for a person sent to state prison. A California certificate of rehabilitation may be sought out, but the laws and rules for this process are different.

[2] It may still be possible for us to get your record expunged even if you have violated probation. It will, however, require additional work.

For a free Consultation, Contact The Law office of Gregory Hagopian

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The Law Office of
Gregory Hagopian

115 South Church Street
Visalia, CA 93291
Phone: 559-302-9507
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Greg Hagopian Law Office, Attorneys - Criminal, Visalia, CA
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