A DUI arrest or conviction on your record affects your educational and career prospects long after the completion of your sentence, or even if the prosecution never filed charges. Such consequences are unfair, especially if you are a law-abiding citizen or just made a mistake that got you arrested. However, the law offers you a chance to clean your DUI criminal record and have a fresh start without the weight of the arrest or conviction. Jonathan Franklin DUI Attorney in Los Angeles will offer you expungement and record cleaning services as part of the post-conviction services for people convicted of a DUI. If you were arrested or convicted for a DUI offense, you could clean your arrest records through sealing or expunging these records.
Sealing of Records
PC 851.87 allows people who were arrested for a DUI but were never convicted, to seal their arrest records. Sealed arrest records become private and cannot be viewed by employers, educational institutions, property owners, and creditors. However, they are available to law enforcement officials. You are also expected to disclose the arrest if you are applying for a job as a peace officer.
Sealing arrest records is a right to all persons if:
- The prosecution did not file charges
- The statute of limitations for the offense has expired
- The charges were dismissed
- You were acquitted
- The conviction was overturned or vacated by an appellate court
- You successfully completed a pretrial diversion program (for example, if you were arrested for DUI of drugs)
The new law on sealing arrest records allows eligible persons to have their records sealed without the requirement to prove that they were innocent of the crime.
The process of sealing records involves several steps, including:
- Filing a petition in the county in which you were arrested or the court in which the prosecution filed the charges. You should serve the prosecuting attorney and the arresting agency with the petition. Ideally, you should have an attorney to help you fill out the required information on the petition. Some of the required information includes your name, date of birth, date of the arrest, the location of the arrest, the arresting agency, the case or court number, and the offenses for which you were arrested. You will also have to include a statement of why your records should be sealed.
- The District Attorney decides whether your records should be sealed. If your petition is contested, the court schedules a hearing (which you may attend or have your lawyer represent you). The hearing involves determining whether you deserve to have your arrest records sealed. The judge has the discretion of denying or accepting your motion. A lawyer can help by examining your case and help you with the paperwork, as well as representing you at the hearing. This increases the chances that the judge will accept your motion.
- If the judge accepts your petition, the court will issue an order to seal your record. The court will also notify the arresting agency, the Criminal Department of Justice, and the law agency in charge of the master criminal records of the sealing.
Expunging A DUI Record
If you were convicted for a DUI offense, then you can petition for an expungement of your conviction record. For most purposes, you can safely and legally say that you have never been convicted for an offense. However, you will have to disclose the conviction if you want to become a peace officer or hold a public office.
Expunging a record allows you to access employment and educational opportunities that are unavailable or limited to you due to a DUI conviction.
Before you expunge your records, you have to meet the eligibility conditions such as:
- Completing probation for the DUI offense
- Did not serve time in a state prison
You can apply for a DUI expungement as soon as you complete the probation. You will have to enter a not guilty plea, or the judge will set aside your guilty verdict. The judge will then dismiss your case.
Although a DUI expungement relieves you of the negative consequences or a conviction, it has some limitations such as:
- The expungement does not end the suspension on your driver’s license, neither does it erase your driving record with the DMV
- The expunged offense will still be a prior DUI offense
- The conviction records will still be available to law enforcement officials
- You will have to disclose the conviction when getting professional licensing
- Your insurance company can still access your driving records and impose higher premiums based on the record
If you were convicted of a felony but did not serve time in state prison, you can have your criminal records expunged by:
- Petitioning the court to reduce the offense to a misdemeanor (applicable for DUI wobbler offenses)
- Expunging a misdemeanor record
You can expunge your DUI record immediately after completing probation. You can, however, file earlier if you successfully request early termination of probation. Early termination of probation is possible once you complete the terms of probation and prove that there are circumstances that warrant an early termination of employment. These could include employment offers, advancements in your career, or the need to travel for important events.
Although expunging a record or sealing an arrest record is possible for most people convicted of a DUI, those with a felony conviction that included time in state prison cannot expunge their records. However, they can explore other options, such as a governor’s pardon or a certificate of rehabilitation.
Certificate of Rehabilitation
If you are serving a state prison sentence, you may be released on parole or serve the whole sentence. Whatever the case, you are eligible for a certificate of rehabilitation under PC 4582.03. The court issues a certificate of rehabilitation to people who have met several conditions of rehabilitation after their release from prison. These conditions include:
- Living in the state for at least five consecutive years since your release from prison
- You have not been convicted or incarcerated for another crime since your release
- You submit proof of rehabilitation
- You are currently not on probation for another offense
One of the conditions for getting a certificate of rehabilitation is providing proof that you have been rehabilitated. Such proof may include:
- You have maintained consistent employment since your release
- You attended counseling for alcohol and drug abuse
- Your participation in community affairs
- You volunteer in non-profit organizations
- You are actively participating in the nurturing and education of your children
- Recommendations by other people who may be your family or community members
If you were convicted for a DUI murder, you would have to wait for a minimum of nine years for you to get a certificate of rehabilitation.
You can also apply for a certificate of rehabilitation if you were sentenced to formal probation, and your record has been expunged.
If you want to apply for a certificate of rehabilitation, you can collect and fill the relevant form with the local California Supreme Court. Once you file the petition, the court might decide to grant you the petition and schedule a hearing.
During the hearing, the judge will evaluate several factors to determine whether you should get a certificate of rehabilitation:
- The records of your arrest and criminal proceedings
- Proof of rehabilitation
- Your criminal history
- Your prison record
- The seriousness of the offense you were incarcerated for
- The time that has passed since you completed probation or were released on parole
- Your reasons for getting the certificate
If your petition is granted:
- You will have automatically applied for the governor’s pardon
- Your citizenship rights will be restored
However, you still have to disclose your criminal record if your employer asks. The employer cannot deny you employment based on criminal record if you have a certificate of rehabilitation.
If your petition is denied, you can appeal the decision or wait sometime before reapplying. Alternatively, you can apply for the governor’s pardon directly.
The Governor’s Pardon
If you are convicted for a DUI felony offense, you can get forgiveness from the governor. The governor’s pardon is an order that allows felons who have demonstrated exemplary conduct during their prison stay. A governor’s pardon can:
- Restore your firearm rights
- Improve your employment prospects
- You can serve in a jury
- You can be employed as a probation or parole officer
- Your application for state professional licensing cannot be rejected based on your conviction
- Your credibility as a witness cannot be impeached based on your conviction
You can apply for a governor's pardon by applying for a certificate of rehabilitation, directly through the governor's office or through a recommendation from the parole board.
The governor’s pardon has several limitations, including:
- It does not seal your arrest records
- The pardon does not expunge your record
- Your employer can still see your criminal record if he or she conducts a background search
- The offense for which you are pardoned still counts as a prior offenses
Once you apply for the governor’s pardon directly, the governor will decide whether to act on your petition or not. The pardon is not a right but is granted at the governor's discretion. The governor might ask for additional details about your case, including the judge and the prosecuting attorney. The two will provide the facts of the case and a statement supporting or advising against the pardon.
If the governor grants your pardon, it will take up to 60 days to reflect on public records. The time it takes for your application to be accepted or considered by the governor cannot be determined, since a pardon is not a constitutional right but a privilege of mercy from the governor. This means that, even if the governor rejects the pardon request, he or she is not obligated to prove the reasons for declining.
The Role of a DUI Defense Attorney in Cleaning Your Criminal Record
You can clean your DUI criminal records yourself, as long as you understand the procedures and can fill in the paperwork correctly.
However, hiring an attorney as soon as you are arrested is always advisable. It allows you and your attorney time to gather evidence and fight the charges against you from an early stage. He or she can negotiate for reduced charges or sentencing.
Adequate defense during the criminal proceedings sets the stage for record cleaning and the expungement of criminal records in case you are convicted. For example, if you hire a lawyer immediately after your arrest, he or she can negotiate with the prosecution, which may prevent the charges from being filed or negotiate through pretrial motions. After a conviction, he or she can request for alternative sentencing such as probation instead of incarceration in a county jail or the California state prison.
Your lawyer will also help you in determining whether you meet the conditions for any record cleaning procedure and helps you in filing the necessary paperwork. Before meeting up with your attorney, gather your court record and other relevant information related to your case. If you can afford it, keep your DUI defense lawyer on retainer. If you cannot afford the retainer fee, then you can still rehire him or her for the services.
Find A DUI Record Cleaning Attorney Near Me
Once you are convicted for an offense, you will probably adhere to the conditions of your release and continue living as a law-abiding citizen. Since you have reformed, it would be reasonable that you get fair employment and educational opportunities. However, due to the criminal record of an arrest or conviction, most people will treat you like a criminal and might deny you employment opportunities long after the offense. Record cleaning is a way of getting a fresh start and a clean slate. You can legally tell employers that you do not have a criminal record. Jonathan Franklin DUI Attorney helps people arrested for or convicted of a DUI in Los Angeles to clear their record and get a new beginning without the dead weight of the arrest or conviction dragging them down. Contact us at 323-464-6700 to evaluate the best record cleaning or expungement option available for you.