One of the most common questions our attorneys receive is “will my felony conviction show up on my public record?” There are many forms of this question, but the answer is always the same. A felony conviction can follow you around for the rest of your life, making it difficult to find and keep a job, become certified as a professional in your field, or even rent an apartment. Your record can be a significant problem in applying for loans and credit, and it can take a toll on your relationship with your family and friends.
That is why you should speak to an attorney about your options to clean your criminal record. Some of those options include:
Fighting the Charge in Court
If your case is pending, you have a chance to avoid the problems that come with having a felony conviction on your record. To do so, you will need the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney who has experience successfully defending clients facing criminal charges. Hiring a skilled defense attorney benefits you because your attorney will be able to personally dedicate the time, skill and effort necessary to get you the best possible outcome in your case.
Filing a Motion of Factual Innocence (PC 851.8)
If you were arrested but never charged with a crime, you may be able to apply to the law enforcement agency that arrested you for a determination of factual innocence. If the agency denies your application (directly or by not answering within a 60-day period), you have the right to pursue the motion in court. You may also be able to apply for a factual innocence motion if the charges against you were dismissed or you were found not guilty.
If the court finds that no reasonable cause exists to believe that you committed the offense for which you were arrested, it will then order that your record be sealed and destroyed.
What to Do If You Have Already Been Convicted
If you were convicted of a felony offense, there are several options open to you. Among those options are:
- Appealing the conviction (PC 1237);
- Applying to have your crime reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor (PC 17b); or
- Applying for early termination of your probation and then expunging the conviction (PC 1203.4)
Appealing a Felony Conviction (PC 1237)
An appeal is not a new trial. There will be no jury, no new facts presented, and no witnesses questioned. Instead, the California Court of Appeal will examine the record of the trial to answer one question: Was the trial conducted in accordance with the laws of the State of California? If the court finds there were errors committed that harmed your case, you may be granted a new trial.
Reduction of Felony Charges (PC 17b)
You may also be able to apply to have your felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor. Many crimes in California are known as “wobblers,” meaning they can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. If the crime you were charged with is a wobbler and your sentence did not include time spent in prison, you can request the court reduce your conviction to a misdemeanor under California Penal Code 17b. If the court grants your motion, the felony will be taken off your record, and a misdemeanor will appear instead.
Expungement (PC 1203.4)
You may be able to expunge the conviction from your record if you successfully completed your probation. The court will review your record to determine if you:
- Completed all the terms of your probation
- Attended all required court appearances, and
- Did not commit any new crimes
If you have not completed your probation, you may be able to petition the court to terminate probation early.
Certificates of Rehabilitation and Governor’s Pardons
If none of the above methods apply to your case, there may be other options for you. First, you may be eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation (PC 4852), which is a special court order that serves as a declaration that, in the court’s opinion, you are completely rehabilitated of the crime for which you were convicted. It is a statement by the court that your criminal history is just that – history – and that you are ready to become a productive and upstanding member of society.
While the certificate will not remove the record of your conviction, it will restore many of your rights, such as allowing you to apply for professional licensing with a state boards, which could enhance your employment possibilities.
The certificate also serves as an automatic recommendation and application for a pardon, which is an order from the governor of California that forgives you for your crimes and ends your sentence. However, you will still have to disclose a pardoned conviction to any potential employers, and a governor’s pardon may not prevent you from being deported if you are not a citizen of the United States.
Contact Wallin & Klarich Today to Discuss Cleaning Your Criminal Record
Do not let your felony conviction continue to ruin your life. Speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney about how you may be able to clean your criminal record. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have more than 35 years of experience successfully helping clients obtain post-conviction relief. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.