If you are a non-U.S. citizen living in the United States, you are probably aware that there has been a recent increase in the amount of persons being taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Many of these people are at great risk of being deported. However, most people do not realize that there may be legal ways for you to avoid deportation and to continue to live in the United States.
Expunging Your Record (PC 1203.4)
California allows people who have been convicted of certain crimes to have their conviction expunged from their record. An expungement is a legal process that allows you to petition the court to review your record, set aside the conviction and dismiss your case. In essence, this is the court determining whether you deserve to have your conviction erased from your record.
Will an Expungement Help for Immigration Purposes?
While an expungement can be very useful at helping you get a job, it is important to remember that expungement is a state criminal procedure. Individual states do not set immigration policy at the federal level. When you are applying to legally stay in this country, you will be asked about any arrests, charges or convictions against you. Having your record expunged or sealed does not allow you to claim you were never arrested, charged or convicted, and if you do not answer the questions honestly, the immigration official conducting your background check can deny your application.
Does this mean an expungement is not a good idea? No, it is still generally a good idea to have your conviction expunged. You will not be required to reveal your conviction to potential employers or landlords, and having stable employment and housing are good when you are seeking to remain in the United States.
Furthermore, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (which includes California) has recognized that an expungement is valid for immigration purposes if your conviction was for simple possession of a controlled substance, provided that you did not violate your probation.1 However, it is crucial to understand that, depending on your crime, an expungement may not be a defense to deportation proceedings against you. Each case is different, which is why you should hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to review your case.
If you wish to seek expunge your criminal conviction from your record, be sure to obtain all the necessary records you will need for your immigration status prior to applying for the expungement. Otherwise, you will have to request to have your record unsealed in order to obtain these records.
Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
As you can see, cleaning up your criminal record for immigration purposes is a highly technical matter. It requires a detailed and careful analysis of your criminal record and immigration history. Facing the possible deportation or loss of your visa or green card because of a criminal conviction demands that you seek the help of an experienced attorney as soon as you can.
At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled criminal defense attorneys have over 35 years of experience fighting for the rights of our clients. 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 and skilled Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. ee Nunez-Reyes v. Holder, 646 F.3d 684 (9th Cir. 2011) (en banc)↩