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Housing and Employment After a Criminal Conviction Expungement

A criminal record can make it hard for you to get employment and housing. Getting your criminal record expunged will make you employable and improve your chances to rent, as public records will show you were never convicted of a crime.

How long does the expungement process take?

The time it takes to get your case expunged will depend on several factors.

First off, the type of crime you committed will affect how long you have to wait before you file for expungement. Under penal code 1203.4a that governs misdemeanor and infraction convictions without probation, you can only qualify for expungement 1 year from when your sentence was successfully completed. Under penal code 1203.41, that stipulates rules for a felony sentence served in a county jail, you have to wait 1 to 2 years before applying for expungement.

Additionally, the location of your case file will also affect the “processing” period. If your file is already archived, it could take 2 to 3 months to retrieve it.

Once your file has been retrieved and your attorney has filed for a petition to dismiss, it could take up to 2 months to get your case dismissed if the deciding court is very efficient. Most court houses will typically take between 3 to 4 months, or even up to 6 months for old cases.

To avoid disappointment, it is advisable to limit your expectations and not make any immediate plans for employment until after your expungement has been granted.

After expungement, what is an employer allowed to ask you on a job application?

When a conviction is expunged under California penal code 1203.4, the offender is cleared of all penalties and disadvantages that result from the conviction.

In 2014, a new act, the Senate Bill No. 530 (SB 530), was enacted in California to amend the labor code, section 432.7, to enforce the rights subsequent to expungement.

As a result, an employer is forbidden from asking questions about a criminal past if a record has been dismissed or sealed. Remember, the employer will have access to your arrest record, but they are not allowed to use an arrest record to disqualify a candidate when the arrest did not lead to a conviction.

If an employer deliberately violates this law, this is treated as a misdemeanor offense, and if you file a case against the employer, the employer may be required to pay up to $500 in fines or damages, as well as attorney’s fees.

If your record has been expunged, you’re within your rights under the law to answer ‘NO’ for inquiries regarding your past criminal convictions.

This however does not apply, if you are seeking employment in a government agency, criminal justice system or a job that requires you to carry a gun.

How does expungement impact your ability to get rental housing

Landlords are not required by law to take in tenants who have a criminal record. Expungement gives you the right to write ‘NO’, in your rental agreement if asked about any criminal involvement.

If you were sentenced to state prison, and 10 years have elapsed since completion of the sentence, you can get a certificate of rehabilitation which will make it easier to get housing. This way, you cannot answer ‘no’ but the certificate will show the landlord that the state considers you rehabilitated.

In California, when your record is expunged, the court clerk informs the FBI and the DOJ to update their records to show that your case has been dismissed.

Note that private companies that do background checks, are not notified of the dismissal. Most employers perform their background checks through these private companies.

After expungement, inform these private companies of your expungement, otherwise your criminal record will still show up and affect your chances for employment. To speed up the process of updating your records, ask your lawyer to assist; your expungement lawyer will know which companies to contact and have the best resources available to expedite the process.

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