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Cleaning Your Criminal Record in California

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What you should know about cleaning your record in California

Serving Clients In Orange County and Surrounding Areas

As an Orange County criminal defense firm, JPLaw, P.C. understands that the weight of a criminal record can cast a shadow on various aspects of your life, from employment prospects to housing, and even personal relationships. 

Unfortunately, the process of cleaning your criminal record can be daunting for those unfamiliar with California laws. The legal landscape surrounding record expungement, sealing, or pardons can be overwhelming and filled with nuances that vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

At JPLaw, P.C. our aim is to demystify the process, offering clarity on the eligibility criteria, legal procedures, and potential challenges you may encounter along the way. Whether you have been convicted of a misdemeanor or a more serious offense, whether you are a first-time offender or someone seeking to move beyond a youthful indiscretion, an experienced expungement lawyer at JPLaw, P.C. is here to help.

1.  What are the different ways of cleaning a criminal record in California?

In California, there are several ways to clean or clear a criminal record, depending on the circumstances of your case and the type of record you want to address. Here are some of the different methods for cleaning a criminal record in California:


Sealing A Record

Prop. 47 Reclassification

Reducing A Felony

Prop. 64 Petitions

  • Expungement (Dismissal): An expungement, also known as a "dismissal" in California, is a legal process that allows individuals to petition the court to set aside and dismiss a conviction from their criminal record. To be eligible for an expungement, you have successfully completed probation and have not committed any new crimes. 

    To expunge a conviction from your record, you must petition the court where you were convicted. If the court grants your petition, your conviction is marked as dismissed, and you can legally state that you were not convicted of that offense.

  • Sealing a Criminal Record: Sealing a criminal record is a process that restricts public access to certain types of records. It typically prevents most members of the public from viewing the sealed record, but certain entities, such as law enforcement and certain employers, may still have limited access.

    Eligibility for sealing a record in California is more specific and may apply to juvenile records, records of arrest without conviction, or records of certain drug offenses under Proposition 64 (related to marijuana offenses).

  • Proposition 47 Reclassification: Proposition 47, a ballot initiative approved by Californian voters in 2014, brought about significant criminal justice reform. This legislation allows eligible individuals with certain non-violent, low-level felony convictions to petition the court for reclassification as misdemeanors.

    By reducing the severity of these offenses, Proposition 47 petitions aim to alleviate the long-term consequences of felony convictions, such as barriers to employment and housing. This reform prioritizes rehabilitation and cost-effective solutions, ultimately promoting fairness and a more equitable justice system in California.

  • Motion to Reduce - 17(b):  A Penal Code 17(b) motion refers to the legal process through which a person can petition the court to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor. Penal Code section 17(b) allows for this reduction under certain circumstances.

    The motion is typically filed after the person has been convicted of a felony. If granted, the motion to reduce can have various benefits, such as restoring certain rights – including gun rights – and alleviating some of the collateral consequences associated with a felony conviction.


  • Proposition 64 (Marijuana) Petition: Proposition 64, passed in California in 2016, marked a significant shift in the state's approach to marijuana. Under this landmark legislation, individuals with prior marijuana-related convictions now have the opportunity to seek relief through Proposition 64 petitions.

    These petitions allow eligible individuals to apply for the reclassification or dismissal of certain marijuana-related offenses from their criminal records. By granting Californians a chance to rectify past convictions in light of changing marijuana laws, Proposition 64 petitions aim to promote fairness, reduce the collateral consequences of prior convictions, and provide individuals with a fresh start.

2.  What are the benefits of cleaning a criminal record? 

Cleaning a criminal record, often through processes like expungement, sealing, or obtaining a pardon, offers numerous benefits that can significantly impact an individual's life. These benefits may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the criminal record, but common advantages include:

  • Improved Employment Opportunities: A clean criminal record can make it easier to secure employment. Many employers conduct background checks, and having a record can be a significant barrier to landing a job. With a clean slate, you'll have a better chance of being hired and advancing in your career.

  • Housing Opportunities: Landlords and property management companies frequently check applicants' criminal histories. A clean record can increase your chances of being approved for rental housing and may also help you secure better housing options.

  • Educational Pursuits: Some educational institutions may consider an applicant's criminal history during the admissions process. A clean record can enhance your prospects for enrollment in colleges, universities, and vocational programs. 


An experienced lawyer can explain all of the potential benefits in more detail. 

  • Professional Licensing: Many professions require state or federal licenses, and certain criminal convictions can disqualify individuals from obtaining these licenses. Cleaning your record may make you eligible for various professional licenses and certifications.

  • Reduced Stigma: Having a criminal record can carry a social stigma that affects personal relationships and self-esteem. A clean record can help reduce this stigma and improve your self-worth and self-confidence.

  • Avoiding Immigration Consequences: For non-U.S. citizens, certain criminal convictions can lead to deportation, visa denials, or inadmissibility. Clearing your record can help mitigate these immigration consequences.

It's important to remember that the specific benefits of clearing a criminal record can vary based on the type of criminal record and the nature of the offense. Additionally, the eligibility criteria and procedures for record cleaning also differ by location. For example, the process of petitioning the court for an expungement in Orange County may differ from the process in Los Angeles County and San Diego County.


If you're considering cleaning your criminal record, it's always best to consult an experienced criminal expungement lawyer at JPLaw, P.C. who can provide guidance tailored to your particular situation and jurisdiction.

3.  Why hire a criminal lawyer to clean your record?

Hiring a lawyer to clean your criminal record can be highly advantageous for several reasons. Lawyers are trained and experienced in navigating the complex legal procedures associated with cleaning a criminal record. They understand the specific laws, rules, and requirements in your jurisdiction, ensuring that your case is handled correctly and efficiently.


Additionally, a criminal lawyer can evaluate your eligibility for record-cleaning processes like expungement, sealing, or pardons. They can determine which option is most suitable for your specific situation and guide you accordingly.


Lastly, a criminal lawyer will know how to present your case in the most favorable light to the court. They can provide evidence of your rehabilitation and articulate compelling arguments for why your record should be cleared, maximizing your chances of success.


While hiring a lawyer involves costs, the potential long-term benefits and the increased likelihood of a successful outcome often make it a worthwhile investment for individuals seeking to clean their criminal records.

Contact An Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer 

Unlock a brighter future by taking the first step towards cleaning your criminal record with JPLaw, P.C. Speak to an experienced legal professional that can help you navigate the complex process of expungement, sealing, and other criminal record relief in Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, and San Diego County.


Don't let past mistakes hinder your opportunities for employment, housing, and a fresh start in life. Contact us today to schedule a FREE consultation and discover how we can tailor a personalized legal strategy to clear your record, paving the way for a brighter tomorrow. Your second chance is just a phone call away!


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JPLaw, P.C.

Orange County Law Office

Old Town Orange Office

410 N Clark St.
Orange, CA 92868

Phone: (949) 991-7057

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