Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious criminal offense. Beyond the immediate potential penalties of imprisonment, fines, and suspension of your driver’s license, you will also likely face years of personal and professional consequences that can interfere with your life in many ways. It’s common for people with criminal records to experience difficulty finding jobs, securing housing, qualifying for financial aid, maintaining a professional license, and other problems due to their past offenses showing up on background checks.
If you have a record of DUI conviction, expungement may be an option for you. Every state has unique laws concerning DUI conviction expungement. The Law Office of Daniel P. Flores can help you understand how to expunge a DUI case and navigate the expungement laws of California. Our goal is to help you prevent your DUI conviction from interfering with your life any more than it already has.
Expungement is the legal process of removing or permanently sealing a criminal record. Whenever a person is convicted of a criminal offense, the record of the conviction is publicly accessible. Additionally, the record will appear whenever another party performs a background check on the convicted individual, such as an employer or school.
The expungement process is a formal legal proceeding that begins with a petition filed by the convicted individual seeking expungement. If you believe that exploring the expungement process would be worth the effort for your situation, it is best to have an attorney assist you with this process and prepare you for the court proceedings your expungement case is likely to entail.
If you want to take advantage of the expungement process, you must first ensure that you qualify. California state law allows an individual to petition the court for DUI record expungement after completing their sentence for the conviction. This means you must have completed your probationary period, or you must have completed your incarceration term. Typically, you cannot qualify for expungement if you served time in state prison for the offense unless you should have served your time in county jail under California’s realignment law enacted under Proposition 47.
Expungement is possible for both DUI misdemeanor and DUI felony offenses, but it is much harder to secure expungement for more serious DUI offenses. The individual seeking expungement must submit a petition to the court explaining why they are seeking expungement and why they believe they qualify. The judge considers the petition after reviewing the conviction record to determine if expungement is appropriate for the situation. If so, the judge will grant the expungement.
When expungement is granted, the petitioner will either withdraw their guilty plea and reenter a not guilty plea, or the judge will set aside the case verdict if the individual was convicted by jury trial.
If you believe that pursuing DUI record expungement is in your best interests, it is vital to understand what the process entails and what you can expect from it. If successful, an employer would no longer be able to use the record of your DUI conviction against you during the hiring process. However, your record may still pose problems in certain situations.
An expunged DUI conviction does not need to be disclosed to a potential employer at all. However, you will still need to disclose your conviction if you plan to pursue any state-issued license or a teaching job. Any state licensing board may potentially use a DUI conviction as justification for denying your license application, but it will look much better for you during the application process if the record was formally expunged.
Another vital detail to keep in mind about the expungement process is that your expunged record does not affect your status with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. If you had your license suspended as part of your DUI sentencing, expunging the record will not restore your driver’s license until you complete the suspension period. However, in most cases, the initial suspension period is much shorter than the probation the individual must complete before qualifying for DUI record expungement. For example, an individual convicted of DUI for the first time will likely face a six-month driver’s license suspension and a three-year probationary period, so they won’t qualify for expungement until after they have already completed their license suspension term.
One more important detail to remember about DUI record expungement is that expunging a DUI conviction will not prevent the conviction from affecting future sentencing if you are convicted of another DUI offense in the future. A subsequent DUI conviction within 10 years of the first conviction will lead to more severe penalties in California. If you are convicted of DUI and have the record expunged but are then convicted of another DUI, the first offense will influence your sentencing for the second.
It is technically possible to petition the court for DUI record expungement without the assistance of an attorney, but the process will be much easier and more likely to succeed if you have legal counsel on your side. Your attorney can help you craft a more compelling petition for DUI expungement and help you prepare for your hearing. Every DUI case is unique, and your attorney can be invaluable in assessing the challenges and opportunities you are likely to face during the expungement process.
The team at the Law Office of Daniel P. Flores has years of experience handling criminal defense representation for those convicted of DUI in California. We understand how challenging these cases can be and how much a DUI conviction can negatively impact your life for years to come. When you choose our firm to help you with DUI record expungement, we will carefully review the record of your conviction and help you prepare for your expungement petition as comprehensively as possible.
If you are ready to have your DUI record expunged and want the assistance of an experienced and reliable DUI defense attorney, contact the Law Office of Daniel P. Flores today to schedule a case review with our team. Once we assess the details of your DUI conviction, we will let you know what you can expect from the expungement process.
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