From Courtroom to Classroom: A Substitute Teacher’s Battle to Expunge her Criminal Record and Become a Teacher in Los Angeles

shows a picture of the long beach courthouse

Case Background:

We represented a client who had her teaching credentials. She completed all the classes and obtained her credentials; however, she was encountering problems in the job market. She has a clean criminal record, except for one incident while bartending at a bar during school. When she was bartending, minors entered the establishment and ordered alcohol. Due to being busy that night, she failed to check their IDs and subsequently got into trouble for serving alcohol to a minor. Although this is a relatively minor charge, it significantly impacted her job prospects in the school districts and needed an expungement to make her more competitive.

Client Profile:

Our client is an Asian female in her 20s who had just completed her schooling and licensing. She worked as a substitute teacher, living day by day while applying for jobs in various schools and districts.

Charges or Allegations:

The legal issue our client faced was a conviction for serving alcohol to minors. This hindered her competitiveness in job applications, as she was compared to other applicants with similar backgrounds but without the misdemeanor charge.

shows the law on B & P Code 25658. Sales To Minors which is what our client got into trouble for

Legal Challenges:

The legal hurdles in this case involved the Long Beach courthouse, known for its slow processing. Files often got lost there, leading to delays of several months.

Defense Strategy:

The expungement process for this case was challenging. The case was misplaced at the courthouse and took months to process. We had to personally visit the courtroom and interact with the District Attorney, educating them about the case. We managed to get the District Attorney to waive notice, and eventually, the case was expunged.

Case Proceedings:

The case progressed slowly through the legal system. Initially, we prepared the petition and compiled a mitigation package for our client. We served the prosecuting agency and filed the paperwork at the court. However, the case was delayed, and despite frequent follow-ups, we were advised to keep checking back. It was only after we aggressively pursued the matter in person in the courtroom, confronting the deputy District Attorney, that we achieved results.


The case concluded with an expungement for our client, enhancing her competitiveness in the teaching market. Following the expungement, she quickly secured a job, allowing her to declare that she has not been convicted of any misdemeanor, preventing potential employers from considering this charge.

Role of Your Firm:

Our firm’s decisive actions, specifically our presence in the courtroom and direct approach with the prosecutor, were instrumental in achieving the desired outcome. Without our advocacy, the file might have remained unresolved. Our efforts led to a successful outcome for our client, enabling her to continue her job search and ultimately become a full-time teacher.

Client Impact:

Our client is now a full-time teacher in a Southern California school district. Without our intervention, she might have remained a substitute teacher. Thanks to our help, she now enjoys the salary and benefits of a full-time teacher, along with job stability, avoiding the uncertainties of substitute teaching.

What are the specific criteria for qualifying for an expungement, particularly in cases similar to this one?

The specific criteria for qualifying for expungement, particularly in a case such as this one, involve completing your probation without any incidents. If there is a probation violation, then it will make obtaining your expungement more difficult. It’s also important that you have not committed any new crimes and that you have no pending cases within the Criminal Court system. In addition, the courts will check whether there is any money outstanding. In other words, they want to know if you have paid your fines. This is assuming that you are able to navigate the bureaucracy.

How long does the expungement process typically take, and what factors can affect its duration?

Many factors can affect the length of an expungement process. The biggest factor is the court’s caseload and the prosecutor’s caseload. Often, these two do not align, so one may be ready to proceed while the other is not. If there is a mismatch, it can delay the process by additional months. However, expungements at the Long Beach Courthouse generally take about four to six months.

Are there any specific challenges or obstacles to expect when dealing with courthouses known for slow processing, like the Long Beach courthouse?

Yes, when dealing with specific challenges such as those at the Long Beach courthouse or other courthouses known for slow processing, such as the Glendale courthouse, it’s important to be proactive. Being proactive means contacting the courts and the prosecuting agency. It’s crucial that your attorney checks up on the case to ensure it doesn’t get lost in the system.

How does a misdemeanor conviction, especially for a minor offense like serving alcohol to minors, typically impact job prospects in various fields?

A misdemeanor conviction, even for minor offenses like serving alcohol to minors, can impact job prospects in fields like teaching, where dealing with children is involved. It’s not so much about the seriousness of the crime as it is about the relationship of the crime to the job. For example, a CPA might not face much trouble for domestic violence, but a less significant crime, such as petty theft, would cause more issues. This also applies to nurses; domestic violence may not be as detrimental for a nurse, but a DUI, drug addiction, or drug possession can be catastrophic.

What kind of evidence or documentation is needed to support an expungement petition effectively?

To effectively support an expungement, helpful documentation includes letters from therapists, a letter from the defendant, reference letters, and community service paperwork.

What are the potential costs involved in pursuing an expungement, and does your firm offer any payment plans or financial assistance for clients with limited resources?

Typically, our cost to expunge a case ranges from $950 to $1,500. It is on the lower end for cases without any probation violations and on the higher end for cases with probation violations and a complicated history.

Call to Action:

If you have a conviction on your criminal record and are experiencing employment difficulties, contact our office. We can assist you

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Hand down the best attorney I have ever worked with!!! My friend recommended Hieu because I needed to expunge something I did when I was young and dumb. Hieu is very humble, personable, and made me feel very comfortable. He's surprisingly funny too. Something not all lawyers are / can do. His pricing is very reasonable and he updated me on everything frequently. I highly recommend him!!!!

Lila K

I had interviewed many attorneys to discuss my very unfortunate situation that was set by someone I knew. Hieu Vu was the most honest, caring, and professional attorney with compassion and empathy I ever interviewed. HE REALLY HAD A HEART. His fees were very reasonable and he will fight for you not just for your dollars but because he cares for his clients... I would strongly recommend him if you feel your life is upside down. Things happen but we learn to become better person.

Mark K

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