Expunging a Domestic Violence Charge in California
Domestic violence is treated very seriously in California and if you are convicted you can face fines, imprisonment, counseling, community service and a criminal record which can affect your future options for a very long time. Fortunately, with the help of an attorney you might be able to get your conviction expunged.
Domestic violence in California is categorized as any form of act against a person you might have a relationship with that could put that person into danger either through abuse or sexual attack. In this state, you could be accused of committing abuse if you harm or threaten your spouse, a member of your family, a relative, a girl friend or a de facto partner.
You do not actually have to physically touch someone to be arrested. You might do something or even just say something which is interpreted as being potentially violent or lead to abuse.
The other aspect of this crime is that whoever has accused you of it might have very little say in preventing a prosecution if she or he decides to change their mind. The police in this state expect the victim to change his or her mind and ask for the prosecution to be stopped, but generally this makes no difference as to whether or not charges will be filed.
Expungement of a criminal record is a very important step for someone who has lived with a conviction yet genuinely wants to reform and get on with their life. When a conviction is expunged, it means that several public records of that conviction are erased.
Expungement can mean a greater chance of getting a job, career advancement, housing, and educational opportunities, all of which may be denied to you when you have a criminal conviction on your record.
What DV related charges can be expunged?
Not all convictions can be expunged. It all depends on the severity of the conviction and what you have done since you served your sentence. In California, as elsewhere in the U.S., there are two different levels of criminal offense. The lesser of the two is a misdemeanor and the more serious is a felony. These offenses can be either misdemeanors or felonies.
In some cases they may be somewhere in the middle and could easily be either one or the other. In legal terminology, this situation is sometimes known as a “wobbler”, meaning with a little change in the amount of evidence or interpretation it could have gone either way.
The main difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is the amount of time the convicted person spends in jail. A misdemeanor domestic violence offense can result in fines, a requirement to stay away from the alleged victim, and a short time in jail or even none at all. With a felony, the time spent in jail is much longer; it could be up to three years.
Expungement for misdemeanor charges is much easier than for felonies. In most cases where you were sentenced to do probation rather than jail, where your probation was terminated earlier than expected, and where all conditions for your period of probation were fulfilled, the court should be able to terminate your conviction.
This expungement is up to the court to decide and is also dependent on you not having any other criminal charge laid against you, and you not doing probation for any other criminal charge.
In certain circumstances, your conviction could have been classified as a felony, but you were not given jail time. In this situation, you will be treated as if you had a misdemeanor, and it is possible for you to get your charge expunged assuming that the conditions just mentioned for a misdemeanor offense have been fulfilled.
What DV related charges cannot be expunged?
If you did something especially violent during your dispute, such as forced rape or the involvement of a child, it is unlikely that you will be able to get your charge expunged. Also, if you have been put on probation and have violated the terms of your probation, then, it is unlikely that you will be able to get your domestic violence charge expunged.
You may also be unable to get your charge expunged even if you have committed another criminal offense or are still under sentence for another criminal offense.
Even if you have served prison time because of your felony charge, it is possible to get a pardon from the Governor in certain exacting conditions. A Certificate of Pardon and Rehabilitation is a special form of expungement which may be granted to you when you have shown yourself to have been genuinely committed to rehabilitation and have steered away from any conflicts with the law for a specified period of time.
Can an attorney help with an expungement?
Domestic violence charges are extremely difficult to deal with as they may rely only on the testimony of the victim and are often fueled by how devastating an offence appears to have been. If you have been charged with a domestic violence offense, then, you shouldn’t expect that you will be treated any more leniently by the court system if you agreed to everything and attempted to please the prosecution.
It is preferable to seek the help of an experienced attorney who is used to dealing with domestic violence cases rather than pursuing an expungement on your own. This is because an experienced attorney will have a better grasp of what facts are the most important and what strategy would be best to help obtain an expungement for your case specifically.
Those who have been convicted in Riverside, Los Angeles, San Diego, or Orange County, California are encouraged to contact our law offices and obtain a free expungement evaluation. Call (888) 250-2865 to get help today.