Everything You Need to Know About Your Los Angeles County Criminal Record

Having a Los Angeles County criminal record can impact your ability to secure housing, find a job, and more. Explore your options here with a California criminal defense lawyer.

The Basics of Your Los Angeles County Criminal Record

 

Whether you’re facing criminal charges or have already been convicted of a crime (or crimes) in the Los Angeles, California area, you need the services of an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney on your side. 

Following an arrest at the hands of a law enforcement agency, you may have many questions. Before your first court date, you should consult an experienced Los Angeles, California criminal defense attorney. An attorney like those at the Law Office of Christopher Chaney will gather information on the charges you are facing and communicate with the government attorney prosecuting the charges. Generally, the next step in your case is deciding whether to enter a guilty plea or fight the charges the government is bringing against you. 

For many individuals, one of the most important considerations in deciding how to plea is the effect that your plea will have on your criminal records. Of course, if you contest the charges with the assistance of your lawyer and win, the California Department of Justice will not create a record of conviction. In addition, under section 851.91 of the California Penal Code, if you are not ultimately convicted in court, you have the right to have your arrest records expunged entirely. Because arrest records and police reports are public information in California, this can be of great assistance when you are seeking employment, housing, student loans, or a variety of public services. 

Find a Criminal Record in Los Angeles County

 

Many employers obtain criminal background reports on potential employees before hiring. Employers may conduct the search on their own or use the services of a third party. 

The search will reveal certain information regarding your criminal history. However, certain information cannot be part of this report under California law. Your record may include information regarding:

  • Criminal convictions (for both felony cases and misdemeanor cases) dating back seven years. (Note that juvenile convictions are generally not reflected in these records once the individual becomes an adult).

By law, an employer or other party cannot access records or documents relating to the following: 

  • Cases where the arrest did not lead to a conviction (unless charges remain pending against the person)
  • Any conviction that occurred more than seven years prior to the search
  • A conviction for which the individual received a pardon in accordance with the State of California’s procedures 
  • A conviction which was later expunged by a court authority
  • Certain offenses relating to marijuana

If You Have a Criminal Record, Los Angeles County Protections May Apply

About one in three Californians have some sort of criminal record. Many employers will request a background report prior to offering an individual a position. 

Luckily, California law provides several protections for Californians who are the subject of such checks. The purpose of these protections is to ensure that Californians are not denied an opportunity for employment on the sole basis of their criminal history. Learn more below. 

Criminal Record Request Los Angeles County

 

On January 1, 2018, provisions were added to California’s Fair Housing and Employment Act to protect Californians with criminal records or arrest records from discrimination with regards to employment. The provisions are commonly known as the “ban the box” initiative. 

Under the “ban the box” initiative, employers are required to remove the following question from application documents: “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” Instead, employers are precluded from asking questions about an applicant’s criminal history until the applicant has been given a conditional offer of employment. 

Following a conditional offer of employment, employers can obtain and consider the conviction history of the person applying. However, certain items remain off-limits. These include arrest records for arrests that did not lead to convictions, charges that were ultimately dismissed following completion of a pretrial or post-trial diversion program, records that have been sealed or expunged, records of juvenile convictions, and certain convictions for marijuana-related offenses. 

These issues can be complex. At the Law Office of Christopher Chaney, our attorneys have the experience and knowledge to guide you through any issues relating to your criminal history. 

How Can You Seal a Criminal Record in Los Angeles County?

 

Under California law, if you were arrested but not ultimately convicted of a crime, you have the right to have your arrest record sealed and destroyed automatically. Once a Los Angeles County arrest record is sealed, it is no longer public information and will not show up on a criminal background check. In addition, any accompanying documents such as police reports, fingerprints, or booking photos will also be removed from the public record. 

Note that there are exceptions to this rule, such as if the individual has a history of arrests or convictions for crimes such as child abuse, elder abuse, or domestic violence. Your Los Angeles County criminal defense lawyer can help you better understand your options if this applies to you.

How to Expunge Your Los Angeles County Criminal Records

 

In the event that you are convicted of the crime for which you were arrested and charged, you do not have the right to have your criminal record sealed. However, you may be eligible to have your conviction court records expunged under California Penal Code section 1203.4. 

To be eligible for expungement, you must meet the following requirements: 

  • You must have paid all fines and court fees associated with your conviction in full.
  • You must not have served time in state prison following your conviction. There are some exceptions to this rule. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can provide you with more information. 
  • Finally, you are not eligible for expungement if you are currently being charged with a criminal offense or if you are currently serving a criminal sentence in jail or prison. Expungement is also not available for individuals convicted of certain sex offenses. 

In order to obtain an expungement, you should retain the services of a qualified criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will petition the court to expunge your conviction. While certain things such as having completed probation may increase your chances of obtaining an expungement, the ultimate decision of whether to expunge your conviction lies with the court. 

Are Criminal Records Public Information in California?

 

In California, criminal records can be accessed under certain circumstances. For example, law enforcement and certain authorized third-party agencies are able to access an individual’s criminal records. In addition, you have the right to submit requests for your own criminal records. 

In order to obtain copies of your own criminal record, you will be required to submit fingerprints, pay a $25 fee, and submit an application through the California Office of the Attorney General’s website. Your criminal records are not publicly available to any individual who wishes to view them. 

If you have questions regarding your criminal history, contact the Law Office of Christopher Chaney today. 

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