Domestic Violence Expungement Lawyers in Orange County
Helping Clear a Conviction from Your Criminal Record
In California, domestic violence charges are taken very seriously. As such, prosecutors will work aggressively to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A conviction for domestic violence can have many damaging effects on a person’s life. Not only may they be subject to incarceration, probation, fines, and community services, but they also result in a mark on a person’s criminal record. Having a criminal history can make it difficult to get a job, find a place to live, or qualify for certain benefits.
Fortunately, some individuals convicted of domestic violence may be eligible for relief through a process called expungement. Essentially, if granted, an expungement results in a dismissal of the case and releases the individual “from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense” (California Penal Code 1203.4). After the relief is ordered, the individual can lawfully say that they have not been convicted of domestic violence. Expungement can lead to a better chance of getting a job, career advancement, and housing and educational opportunities.
At the Law Offices of Randy Collins, we know how important it is to seek relief from a domestic violence conviction. Petitioning for an expungement is a crucial step for anyone who has lived with a conviction and genuinely wants to reform and get on with their life. Our Orange County domestic violence expungement attorneys are here to assist you in seeking a second chance.
What Is a Domestic Violence Offense?
In California, domestic violence is the use of force or violence against a person with whom the alleged offender has a relationship with. The relationship does not have to be a romantic one. Even attacks on a roommate can be considered domestic violence.
Under California Penal Code 13700, domestic violence involves harm or threatened harm against a:
- Former spouse
- Former roommate
- Person with whom the alleged offender shares a child
- Dating partner
Note that physical contact does not have to be made for someone to be arrested. Saying something interpreted as potentially violent or abusive is an offense.
One aspect of domestic violence is that whoever made the accusation has little say in preventing a prosecution if they later change their mind. The police expect the victim to ask for charges to be dropped. However, the victim’s request may have no effect on whether or not the prosecutor pursues the case.
Depending on the nature of the offense, domestic violence can be a misdemeanor or felony. Felonies are more serious and a conviction results in harsher penalties. Thus, it is generally easier to expunge a misdemeanor than a felony.
Can a Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Conviction Be Expunged?
Under California Penal Code 1203.4, a person convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence can seek an expungement. However, they must ensure that they meet the eligibility requirements.
The individual can petition for expungement if:
- They have not been charged with any other offenses after being convicted for domestic violence,
- They are not on probation or parole for any other crime, and
- They satisfied the terms of their probation.
If the individual was not placed on probation, they must wait 1 year from the date of their conviction to seek expungement (California Penal Code 1203.4a).
If the individual is still on probation, they are not completely barred from petitioning for expungement. They can ask the court for early termination of probation and then apply for expungement after their sentence has been modified (if their request is granted).
Can a Felony Domestic Violence Conviction Be Expunged?
In some cases, a felony domestic violence conviction can be expunged. The same law concerning a misdemeanor expungement applies. Like a misdemeanor case, the person seeking expungement of a felony must have fulfilled the terms of their probation, cannot have any pending charges, and not be on probation for another offense.
However, the following additional considerations apply to felonies:
- If the individual was sentenced to county jail, and ordered to mandatory supervision, they must wait 1 year after completing their sentence before seeking expungement.
- If they were not ordered to mandatory supervision, they cannot petition for expungement until 2 years after completing their sentence.
- If they were sentenced to state prison, they are only eligible for expungement if the offense they were convicted of now carries only a county jail sentence. Otherwise, they cannot seek post-conviction relief.
What Domestic Violence Convictions Cannot Be Expunged?
If the domestic violence offense was especially severe (for instance, it involved rape or a child), it is unlikely that the conviction can be expunged.
Also, if the individual was put on probation – whether for a felony or misdemeanor offense – and they violated the terms and conditions of probation, it is at the court’s discretion whether the conviction may be expunged.
The individual may be unable to get their domestic violence conviction expunged if they have committed or are still under sentence for another criminal offense.
Even if the individual has served prison time because of their felony conviction, it may be possible to get a pardon from the Governor in certain exacting conditions. A Certificate of Pardon and Rehabilitation is a special form of expungement that may be granted when the individual has shown themselves to have been genuinely committed to rehabilitation and have steered away from any conflicts with the law a specified period.
Our Team Can Help Seek a Domestic Violence Expungement
A domestic violence conviction can impose severe limitations on your life. Seeking an expungement can be challenging because of the intricacies and emotional nature of these offenses. That is why it is essential to hire a defense attorney with experience handling domestic violence matters and expungements.
At the Law Offices of Randy Collins, our Orange County domestic violence expungement lawyers have a sound grasp of these cases. We know what facts are important to focus on and what strategies can be used to pursue post-conviction relief.