The Benefits of Expunging a Criminal Conviction in California
An expungement removes the stigma from your record and, when it comes to looking for a job, puts you back on a level playing field with everyone else.
How Can Expunging Your Criminal Conviction Benefit You?It can help you get a job.
To expunge means to erase, and expunging a criminal conviction from your record can improve your job prospects.
You may have been fortunate enough to have kept your job despite suffering a conviction. But if you ever find yourself looking for another employment opportunity, a conviction may keep you from moving on. Employers may be less likely to interview an applicant who has suffered a criminal conviction, especially if they have a pool of equally qualified candidates to choose from.
That's where expungement comes in. In California, employers are prohibited--by law--from asking applicants about a past conviction that has been expunged. And even if an employer discovers an expunged conviction through a background check, the employer cannot use the expunged conviction as a reason to not hire you.
Additional Benefits of Expunging Your ConvictionExpungement doesn't just work for prospective jobs; it protects your current job as well. Even if your current employer discovers that you have an expunged conviction, your employer cannot fire you because of it. It should be noted that this protection applies only after a conviction has been expunged from your record, not before.
An additional benefit of expunging your conviction is protection of your credibility in court. If you are ever called to testify as a witness, the expunged conviction cannot be used to suggest that you are a less trustworthy person.
There Are Limits to What an Expungement Can DoEven if your conviction is expunged, there may be instances in the future where it will affect you.
(1) You may still have to disclose it. You'll have to disclose the expunged conviction if you run for public office, apply for a license from a state or local agency, or contract with the California State Lottery Commission.
(2) It's "priorable." If you commit the same crime again in the future, the prosecutor may use your expunged conviction as a sentencing enhancement.
(3) The long-lasting conditions of the conviction remain intact. For instance, you cannot own a gun after being convicted of certain firearm-related crimes. This restriction on gun ownership remains even after the firearm-related conviction is expunged.