In California, you’re eligible to apply for an expungement of your DUI (Driving Under the Influence) conviction as soon as you’ve successfully completed your probation term. Unlike some other states, California doesn’t impose an additional waiting period after probation for expungement. However, you must have fully adhered to all the probation conditions, such as completing DUI education programs, paying any fines, and avoiding any new legal charges.
As a criminal lawyer, I understand that getting charged with a DUI conviction under California Vehicle Code 23152 VC or 23153 VC is no walk in the park. A DUI conviction can have a significant impact on your personal and professional life. Many people wonder if it’s possible to “cleanse” their record of this stain, which is where the concept of expungement comes into play. But what if I tell you there’s a way out?
Let me break down the steps, eligibility criteria, and the benefits of this legal procedure.
Please note: This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. For personalized guidance, consult an attorney specializing in DUI and criminal law.
What is Expungement?
Expungement is a legal process that allows you to petition the court to remove a conviction from your criminal record. While the record is not entirely erased, it is modified to show that the conviction was dismissed, making it easier for you to secure employment, housing, and other opportunities.
New Expungement Law in California 2023
In the past, receiving a prison sentence would have instantly disqualified you from being able to expunge your record. Additionally, certain offenses, notably those involving sexual misconduct that requires registration, as well as crimes committed against minors, were explicitly excluded from the list of offenses that could be expunged.
As of July 1, 2023, California has implemented a groundbreaking new law, SB731, often referred to as the “clean slate” law. Signed by Governor Newsom, this new legislation dramatically expands eligibility for expungement. It benefits those who have served their sentence for previous crimes, including DUIs, and have stayed out of trouble with the law for four years. The law aims to help over a million Californians get a fresh start by mitigating the long-lasting effects of a criminal record.
Learn about the upcoming changes to California’s expungement law in 2023 in our new blog post.
Eligibility Criteria for Expungement in California
Before you can proceed with expunging a DUI from your record, you need to meet certain DUI expungement requirements California:
- Completion of Sentence: You must have completed your entire sentence, including jail time, probation, and any court-ordered programs.
- No Pending Charges: You should not have any pending criminal charges against you.
- No New Convictions: You should not have been convicted of another crime during the probation period.
The legislation known as SB731 aims to assist over one million residents of California by offering a pathway to expunge certain criminal records. However, it’s important to note that the law sets specific limitations on eligibility. For instance, individuals convicted of severe or violent offenses, particularly those mandated to register as sex offenders, are excluded from taking advantage of this legal provision.
Additionally, those who are currently under the supervision of legal authorities or have other ongoing criminal cases are also not eligible. Despite these restrictions, a highly skilled DUI expungement California lawyer can still make an attempt to file for expungement on behalf of his clients, irrespective of the circumstances.
Limitations of An Expunged DUI
In California, the statute of limitations for a DUI is generally two years for a misdemeanor and three years for a felony. This means that the state has a limited timeframe to bring charges against you for the offense.
An expunged DUI is not completely erased; it still counts as a prior DUI offense for DMV records and subsequent DUI charges. If you are charged with another DUI within a 10-year period following your first, expunged DUI, the new offense will be treated as a second DUI, with all the attendant penalties and consequences. Read the New Law On Suspended License In California.
How To Expunge A DUI in California
- Step 1: Hire an Attorney and understand your case
- Step 2: Get a Copy of Your Criminal Record
- Step 3: Complete Probation
- Step 4: File a Petition
- Step 5: Attend the Hearing
- Step 6: Receive the Court’s Decision
Step 1: Hire An Attorney
Yes, it’s highly recommended. Many people try to manage expungement procedures by themselves. They frequently make mistakes that lead to their applications being turned down. As a result, they end up having to hire lawyers and go through the process again, incurring extra costs. A professional expungement lawyer can guide you through the intricacies of the legal process.
In California, the court must believe that expunging a record serves the cause of justice before approving the request. Given the sensitivity surrounding DUI cases, judges are cautious not to appear too lenient. Therefore, it’s crucial to seek the guidance of a seasoned attorney, preferably one specializing in DUI cases, to navigate this complex legal landscape.
Step 2: Get A Copy of Your Criminal Record
You’ll need to collect all relevant court documents related to your DUI case. This typically includes the case number, the specific code sections you were convicted under, and details about your sentence.
Additionally, obtaining a copy of the driver’s criminal history is an important step in the process of filing a petition to expunge a DUI conviction. Having a clean criminal record is advantageous when petitioning a court for a DUI expungement. This record not only serves as a testament to the individual’s conduct but also provides the court with context. It informs the judge whether the DUI case in question is a first-time offense or if the person has a history of DUI arrests or convictions.
Step 3: Complete Probation
Driving under the influence (DUI) offenses come with various legal consequences, including mandatory DUI education programs and a period of probation. The goal is for the individual to successfully complete these requirements in order to be eligible for expungement, which essentially means erasing the DUI from their criminal record. However, not everyone can wait until the end of their probation period to seek expungement, particularly if the charges are impeding their ability to secure employment.
That being said, there is a complicated avenue for potentially accelerating this process: requesting early termination of probation. Please note that this is by no means a guaranteed option. Judges are generally cautious about granting early termination, as the probation period serves as a corrective mechanism to ensure responsible behavior.
In exceptional cases, some judges might be willing to consider early termination if the individual can demonstrate a compelling need, such as securing a job that requires a clean criminal record. In such instances, the court weighs the societal benefit of the individual gaining employment against the intended purpose of the probation period.
Step 4: File A Petition
The next step is to file a petition for dismissal, also known as California Penal Code 1203.4, with the court where you were convicted. There is usually a filing fee, which can be waived in certain circumstances.
The file should comprehensively outline all aspects of the DUI case that the accused has undergone. This includes every event and legal action, from the arrest to the final court decision.
Step 5: Attend the Hearing
Once your petition is filed, a court hearing will be scheduled. You (or an attorney) will need to attend this hearing, where a judge will review your petition and any objections from the prosecution.
Step 6: Wait For The Court’s Decision
Once the petition for expungement is approved by the judicial system, the defense attorney will receive a Dismissal Order. This formal document marks the initiation of the process to erase the DUI charge from the individual’s criminal history.
Following these steps, the only thing left for the individual to do is wait. The court will then make a determination on whether or not to permanently remove the DUI conviction from their record.
Having a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) conviction expunged from your record in California can offer various advantages, both professionally and personally. Below are some of the benefits, rephrased to ensure originality:
- Disclosing to Employers with Confidence: With an expunged DUI, you can confidently inform prospective employers that you have not been convicted of a criminal offense. This could increase your chances of securing a job, as criminal records are often a point of concern for employers.
- Qualifying for Professional Licenses: Certain professions require licensing, and having a criminal record can be a stumbling block. Once your DUI is expunged, you may become eligible for some of these licenses, opening up new career paths.
- Easier Immigration Status Changes: If you’re seeking to alter your immigration status, an expunged DUI can simplify the process. You can submit your application with greater assurance, knowing that a prior conviction won’t weigh against you as heavily
- Openness with Loved Ones: Once your record is clear, you can honestly tell your friends and family that you haven’t been convicted of a crime, which may alleviate personal strains or stigmas.
- Peace of Mind in Background Checks: The fear or embarrassment that comes with someone performing a background check on you can be stressful. Expunging your DUI record gives you peace of mind, knowing that your past mistakes won’t show up in these checks.
Need A DUI Expungement Lawyer Los Angeles County? Call: (866) 713-2159
If you believe you qualify for expungement under California’s recently enacted SB731 legislation, don’t let uncertainty dictate your future. Act now by partnering with a skilled criminal defense lawyer to prepare your application for expungement. This law provides a golden opportunity for you and your loved ones to begin anew. Don’t hesitate; schedule a complimentary consultation with a nearby legal expert today. If your license is suspended after getting DUI in California, here is a guide on “How To Get License Back After Dui In California”
If you want your DUI case expunged whether it is a felony or a misdemeanor in the Los Angeles or Southern California area. Call Cyrus at Tabibnia Law Firm (866) 713-2159.
Below are a few common questions you might have. Tabibnia Law Firm will answer all of them:
- How much does a DUI expungement cost in California?
- How long does it take to get a DUI expunged in California
- Can I expunge a DUI in California myself?
Tabibnia Law Firm is serving its clients throughout Southern California including Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Orange County, Beverly Hills, San Fernando Valley, Ventura county, Riverside County, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Pasadena, Burbank, Glendale, Long Beach, Palmdale, Santa Clarita, Monterey Park, La Puente, Van Nuys, Pomona, Manhattan Beach, West Covina, Whittier, Downey, Woodland Hills, Norwalk, Torrance, Redondo Beach, San Bernardino, Walnut Creek, Inglewood, Lancaster, Westlake Village and nearby areas.