We Follow Up: Post Conviction Assistance
Building a Life Post Conviction: A Criminal Record Doesn’t have to Destroy You
A criminal record can impact your life negatively for years to come, but it isn’t always a permanent scar on your personal history.
Why You Need Post Conviction Assistance
More companies are conducting pre-employment background checks on potential employees and it could make it difficult for you to obtain employment. You may have difficulty traveling. Let’s say you want to visit friends in Canada, or go to another country for a holiday, you may not be able to enter the country. You need to rebuild your history and your reputation. You want to rebuild your life.
There are options that a California criminal defense lawyer can help you with:
Undo a Recent Criminal Conviction
Your criminal defense attorney can determine the best way to undo your criminal conviction, depending on your circumstances and the legal parameters.
- Conviction by Plea: A conviction that is a result of a guilty or no contest plea, can be undone through a motion to withdraw the plea, if it is filed within six months of sentencing. You must be granted probation and your lawyer must show that there is good cause. For example, if there was a mistake made where you were not advised properly of your rights, you were not given the proper direction regarding your plea, or there was a violation of the terms of the plea bargain. If your lawyer can have the plea withdrawn, they can file a motion for a new trial or for other actions such as suppressing evidence, additional discovery or a dismissal.
- In cases where you were given a prison sentence instead of a county jail sentence and probation, in order to undo the plea, a writ of habeas corpus is needed.
- Conviction by Trial: To undo a trial conviction, your lawyer will file an appeal, or a writ of habeas corpus. An appeal does not allow for the introduction of new evidence, which is where a writ of habeas corpus can be more effective.
Clean up Your Criminal Record
The Internet has made it even easier for others to find out all about your criminal history and even sell that information to others. There are a number of databases online that contain this information.
- Juvenile Court Convictions: If you were young and made mistakes, you should not have to pay for them the rest of your life. A juvenile court record is not automatically sealed. Your lawyer can bring a motion to seal and destroy your juvenile record. No one, including law enforcement will be able to access those records once that is accomplished.
- Arrested, but Not Convicted or Found Not Guilty: In today’s world people are convicted by the court of public opinion, but you should be able to clear your good name. Your lawyer can file a motion for a finding of factual innocence. They can petition the court to seal and destroy the arrest records under California Penal Code section 851.8. In the cases of an acquittal, your court records the same situation applies.
- Misdemeanor or Felony Conviction Where Probation Was Granted: If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony, and were granted probation, your lawyer can apply for an “expungement.” Your records will not be sealed or destroyed in this case, but once you fulfill your obligations to the court by serving out your sentence and as long as you have no other criminal cases pending, your lawyer can withdraw your guilty plea (or no contest) and enter a plea of not guilty. The charges against you will be dismissed and with certain limitations, you will be released from all penalties resulting from the offense you were convicted on. While you are still held to account for those charges in that they can be used against you if you are charged with a similar offense, and you have to disclose your conviction in certain instances, it does offer some protection and it shows potential employers that you are trying to turn your life around.
- Felony Probation on a “wobbler:” A wobbler is a crime that can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If you have been given probation for a crime considered a wobbler, you can have your felony conviction declared a misdemeanor, which is a lesser crime before it is expunged under California Penal Code section 17 (b) before it is “expunged” under PC 1203.4.
- Certificate of Rehabilitation and Governor’s Pardon: If you have been convicted of a felony and served a term in state prison, your lawyer can file for the certificate of rehabilitation, and the Governor’s pardon. You must have been a resident of California for at least five years prior to the application for a certificate of rehabilitation. Once this is obtained, it relieves you of the requirement to register as a sex offender California Penal Code section 290.
Don’t be fooled by online ads that offer these services. The only way to be sure that these legal issues are dealt with properly is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney.