Expungement is the legal process of destroying or sealing a criminal record, making it no longer publicly available. Sealing a criminal record means it is still technically available to certain agencies, but not accessible to the general public. Expungement is typically available for certain misdemeanor and felony convictions, as well as certain arrests that did not result in a conviction.
In order to be eligible, an individual must typically have completed their sentence, including any probation or parole, and not be currently serving a sentence or on probation for another offense. Sealing a criminal record is generally only available for arrests that did not result in a conviction.
There are several benefits to expunging or sealing a criminal record in California. It can improve job prospects and make it easier to obtain certain professional licenses. It can also improve chances of being approved for housing or credit. Expungement or sealing can provide a sense of closure and allow individuals to move on with their lives, free from the stigma of a criminal record.
While some agencies, such as law enforcement and certain licensing boards, may still be able to access sealed records, for most practical purposes, an expunged or sealed record is treated as if it does not exist.
If you or someone you know is interested in expungement or sealing a criminal record, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney.