Securing a Second Chance: Can a Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Be Expunged?

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Can a Misdemeanor Domestic Violence be Expunged?

Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Expungement

Domestic violence charges can have severe repercussions, affecting multiple aspects of an individual’s life, including employment opportunities and personal rights. The concept of expunging such charges, especially in misdemeanor cases, is often misunderstood. This article aims to elucidate the expungement process, its prerequisites, and the potential challenges one might encounter. By addressing frequently asked questions, this piece illuminates Orange County Courts’ perspective and offers vital guidance for those seeking to expunge their records.

Three Important Points:

  1. Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Expungement is Complex but Attainable: Individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence in Orange County can seek expungement provided they have completed their probation and meet certain legal prerequisites, offering them a chance at a fresh start without the shadow of their past convictions.
  2. Understanding Legal Prerequisites and Limitations is Crucial: A successful expungement requires a comprehensive understanding of laws, such as the 1203.4 Penal Code, and the completion of probation. However, expungement does not erase the conviction from restricted law enforcement databases or restore certain rights, like gun rights.
  3. Legal Counsel is Imperative: Given the intricacies and nuances of the expungement process, securing experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel is crucial. A competent attorney can navigate the legal system effectively, ensuring the highest chance of a successful outcome.

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This is one of the most common questions I receive in my practice. In Orange County Courts, domestic violence convictions can be expunged if the convicted individual has completed probation. One can ask their lawyer to file a motion, pay a fee, and appear in court.

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Most employers perform background checks; however, many don’t consider the circumstances surrounding a domestic abuse case. An individual can be arrested for domestic violence even without committing the crime. Sometimes, police may arrest both parties involved in a domestic dispute. Expunging the record can make securing employment significantly easier.

The law governing domestic violence expungement is 1203.4. To expunge a domestic violence conviction, one must complete the terms of their probation and have no ongoing cases. The law states that the court will vacate the conviction by either changing the guilty plea to not guilty and dismissing the case, or setting aside the judgment.

Can a misdemeanor domestic violence be expunged if the District Attorney Objects against it because I am still on probation?

No. The standard probation period is three years, but some may unwittingly extend their probation because they weren’t aware they were in violation, thereby not receiving credit. In such instances, one can petition the court for early termination of probation under code 1203.3. Substantial reasons must be provided to override any objections from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. Impending job loss and job hunting can be considered compelling circumstances to avoid a denied expungement.

Can a misdemeanor domestic violence be expunged if I was arrested but never charged? 

In California, if you were convicted of domestic violence, expungement is possible after three years, provided probation conditions are met. However, if you were arrested but never charged, expungement is not applicable; instead, one can seal their arrest record under Penal Code 851.91 or 851.8.

Can a misdemeanor domestic violence be expunged if I don’t terminate my probation?

No. A Conviction for domestic violence is never eligible for expungement if you are still on pronation. However, a misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence is eligible once you have a successful termination of probation

What are the Expungement Requirements?

Expungement requires completion of probation. Domestic violence records do not automatically vanish post-probation, even for first offenses. Once expunged or sealed, records will not appear in public criminal records. However, expunging does not restore gun rights and can still be used for impeachment.

What are the Domestic Violence Expungement Restrictions?

Other restrictions from expunging a domestic violence is that it will not restore your gun rights and it can still be used to impeach you. Some domestic violence arrest but not all  can be sealed.

A domestic violence arrest or criminal charge can be sealed pursuant to Penal Code 851.91 if the charge was later dismissed, not filed, or a not guilty was obtained in trial by your criminal defense lawyer.  Once it is expunged or sealed then it will not be on your public criminal records. 

What are the Chances of a Successful Domestic Violence Expungement?

If all probation conditions are met, the likelihood of successful expungement is high, ensuring a clean background check. However, multiple probation violations and new charges can pose significant challenges.

If my charge gets dismissed is my criminal record clear?

Sealing or expunging records can clear arrests and/or convictions from public view, but not from the restricted-access RAP sheet. A motion for factual innocence is required to clear this record completely, a crucial step for those applying for professional licenses.

Can a misdemeanor domestic violence charge be expunged if I have completed my probation?

Completing probation is a requisite for seeking expungement of a domestic violence charge. Failure to complete probation will prompt an objection from the District Attorney, and the court will most likely concur, resulting in the denial of expungement.

What is the process for expunging a misdemeanor domestic violence charge in Orange County?

In California and Orange County, the expungement process for a misdemeanor domestic violence charge involves filing a petition pursuant to Penal Code 1203.4. Besides the petition, preparation of an order and provision of proof of service are mandatory. To convince the judge, I also incorporate declarations and character letters to overcome potential objections from the District Attorney.

How does having a misdemeanor domestic violence charge impact employment opportunities?

A misdemeanor domestic violence charge significantly impacts employment, especially in professions involving children, like school districts. Many substitute teachers find themselves dismissed following an arrest for domestic violence.

Will expungement restore my rights, such as gun rights?

Expungement of a domestic violence case does not restore gun rights.

How can an attorney assist me in expunging a misdemeanor domestic violence charge?

An attorney will prepare the petition, order, and proof of service and assist in crafting a compelling statement to the judge. Moreover, the attorney will represent you in court to counter any objections from the District Attorney regarding your expungement.

Can a charge be expunged if I was arrested but not convicted?

Many arrested for domestic violence are not convicted; however, the arrest record remains. Expungement does not address this issue; instead, recourse is found in the 851.91 provision.

Does expungement clear my criminal record completely?

Expungement clears your record for employment and alleviates associated disabilities, but police and state-operated databases will retain a record of your criminal history.

What are the obstacles to expunging a misdemeanor domestic violence charge?

Obstacles include opposition from the Orange County District Attorney, probation status, and judicial discretion, all potentially hindering the expungement of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.

How do Orange County Courts view misdemeanor domestic violence expungement?

Achieving expungement in Orange County is possible, although misdemeanor domestic violence is frowned upon. With the right steps, overcoming these obstacles to secure a clean record is attainable.

Is legal counsel necessary for expungement?

Having legal counsel can significantly smooth and streamline the expungement process, reducing the likelihood of multiple rejections inherent to the adversarial system.

What are the chances of successful expungement if all probation conditions are met?

Meeting all probation conditions does not guarantee successful expungement, especially if there are outstanding violations or fines.

What are the legal prerequisites for expunging a misdemeanor domestic violence charge?

Legal prerequisites for expungement include completion of probation and having no ongoing cases. These are the minimum requirements for a judge to consider your petition.

The process of expunging a misdemeanor domestic violence charge in Orange County is complex but not impossible. Several factors, including the nature of the conviction, completion of probation, and the particular circumstances of each case, play a role in determining one’s eligibility. While expungement can provide a fresh start for many, understanding its limitations, requirements, and nuances is crucial. It’s always advised to consult with an experienced attorney to navigate the intricacies and ensure the best possible outcome.

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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.

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