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What An Expungement Will Not Do
Our California expungement lawyers emphasize to clients that expungements do not magically erase a person’s criminal record. While expunging your criminal convictions can have certain very positive benefits, it has limitations as well. Among the things an expungement will not do for you are:
1. Prevent Anyone From Learning About The Conviction
A California expungement does not erase a criminal conviction. Rather, it updates the record of conviction to reflect that the guilty plea has been withdrawn, a “not guilty” plea has been entered in its place, probation is terminated, and the case has been dismissed.
If someone does a background check on you, even after an expungement, they still may see that the conviction did take place. But they will also see that it was later successfully expunged.
2. Allow You Not to Disclose The Conviction to a State Licensing Board
In an application for a state license, for public office, or for contracting with the state lottery, if you are asked whether you’ve been convicted of a crime, you must disclose any criminal convictions…even if the convictions have been expunged. However, a licensing board may be less likely to hold an expunged criminal conviction against you.
3. Prevent The Conviction From Being Used to Enhance The Sentence For a Subsequent Conviction
Some California criminal convictions are “priorable.” This means if you are convicted of crimes in the future, the court can (and sometimes must) impose stiffer sentences because of the prior record. Generally, an expungement does not prevent a conviction from still being “priorable” for this purpose.
Drunk driving is a good example. If a person is convicted of a DUI, the DUI conviction is “priorable” for the next 10 years. If he suffers another DUI conviction during that 10 year period, the new conviction will be treated as second-time DUI and punished more severely…even if the first DUI conviction had already been expunged.
4. Permit a Person to Own, Use or Possess a Firearm
California Penal Code 12021 makes it illegal to own, use or possess a firearm after a felony conviction and after certain misdemeanor convictions. An expungement does not relieve the convicted person of this prohibition.
5. Relieve a Person of Sex Registration Under Penal Code 290
An expungement does not relieve a convicted sex offender in California of the duty to register under California Penal Code 290. However, other forms of relief may be available to relive a registered sex offender of this obligation.
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