Frequently Asked Questions.
Here are some common questions about Record Clearing.
What will show up when someone does a background check?
If the employer requires you to submit fingerprints and provide a copy of the California Department of Justice criminal history report, after a successful record clearing through the Better Start your report will show that there was a case, but that your case was dismissed and there is no longer a conviction or finding of guilt.
If the employer does a standard commercial background check, the chances are the conviction and the case will not appear on the background check. However, standard commercial background check companies may take up to one year to update their records to reflect a cleared record. The better Start can expedite the updating of commercial background checks companies and reduce the time it takes from about one year to less than 14 days. See our Expedited Record Clearance Update for information on this important step.
Can the case still be used against me?
An expunged felony in California can be used in the sentencing for a subsequent conviction. (PC 1203.4(A)(1))
Do I ever have to disclose my case?
The only time you have to disclose the expungement is in three narrow circumstances: (1) when contracting with the California State Lottery Commission, (2) when applying for public office (mayor, congressman, etc.), and (3) when applying for a state license. (PC 1203.4(a))
Do I have to go to court?
No, we will go to court for you. If the court requests your presence and you are unable to attend, we will file a motion to excuse your appearance.
How long does the process take?
Typically, most California felony expungement cases take about four to five months depending on the court.
Our estimate is based on how long the average expungement case takes in California; however, each case is different. Factors affecting the length of the process include: the circumstances surrounding the case, whether the District Attorney is agreeing or objecting, and the amount of time that has passed since the incident. We work on your case as fast as we can and assist the court and District Attorney in anything they need to get your case heard.
How do I know what is going on with my case?
We have an online tracking system for you to stay updated on the progress of your case(s). You will have a username and password to access your account where you can view all of the information specific to your case. Whenever anything happens in your case, we post notes in your online account so that you can view the status of the case and the progress that has been made.
If there are no notes in your online account, then that means there is currently no update on the case. For example, once we have filed the petition with the court, we will update the notes when we hear a response from the court or District Attorney. Depending on the case, it can take several weeks or even months to hear from the court or District Attorney regarding the next step. If something is taking longer than usual for the court, we will obtain the status of the case and update your online notes. In addition to posting the status updates in your online account, we will post your case information so you are aware of the case and future hearings.
Do you have payment plans?
Yes, we offer flexible payment plans to meet your needs. Please review the pricing section for details regarding the payment plan.
Does a California expungement seal the entire case?
No. A California expungement takes the conviction off your record and replaces the conviction with a dismissed court case. An expungement also removes the finding of guilt.
If I was convicted of a felony, can I have it reduced to a misdemeanor?
If you were not sentenced to state prison and your offense is a “wobbler,” then you may have your felony reduced to a misdemeanor. A “wobbler” is an offense that could have been charged as either a misdemeanor or felony at the time of the conviction. If you are eligible for reduction, then you may file for the reduction along with the expungement. If you would like for us to determine if your case is a “wobbler,” you can call our office with the Penal Code section number you were convicted of and the year that you were convicted, and we will look that up for you.
Will an expungement relieve me of the requirement to register as a sex offender?
Expungement will not relieve you of the requirement to register as a sex offender. You will have to obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation to be relieved of the registration requirement. You can read about that service on the Certificate of Rehabilitation section of our website. (PC 290.007)
What happens after my conviction is expunged?
The judge will sign a court order stating that your conviction is dismissed. The court clerk then mails that order to our law firm, and we will email or mail the order to you. Additionally, the criminal databases (for instance, the CA Department of Justice) will update your criminal history to reflect the expungement.
Will an expungement clear my DMV record?
An expungement does not clear your DMV record; however, after a certain number of years, the DMV records fall off and disappear, unlike your criminal history that never disappears
Will an expungement help with immigration?
Criminal violations may have severe consequences for immigrants, even if the crime is expunged/vacated/sealed. Even minor offenses such as petty theft can make someone deportable or inadmissible. Since each case is unique, it is important to get a case-by-case analysis tailored to your specific facts. To find out if your criminal conviction will impact your immigration case it is imperative you contact a qualified immigration attorney. Our in-house immigration attorney is available to answer questions at 323-803-7147.
Will expungement remove a strike for the purposes of California’s Three Strikes Law?
No. A felony conviction that qualifies as a strike under the Three Strikes Law is still considered a strike after expungement. (People v. Diaz, 41 Cal. App. 4th 1424 (1996)). However, having a felony reduced to a misdemeanor will remove the strike for future sentencing purposes if you are convicted again. (People v. Park, 56 Cal. 4th 782 (2013))