Individuals convicted of domestic violence often want to know if they can expunge, or remove, their past conviction from their record. A domestic violence conviction can severely affect an individual’s life, including in employment, licensing and other areas.
Can the court expunge a domestic violence conviction?
Yes in most misdemeanor cases, so long as the defendant did not violate any of the terms of their probation for that conviction or committed additional criminal offenses after the domestic violence conviction they are trying to expunge.
In the case of a one-time domestic violence event that leads to a conviction, where the individual does not otherwise have a criminal record and does not commit any further illegal activity, the expungement process can be much easier.
What does the process of expungement look like?
For the court to consider expunging a domestic violence conviction, the individual must file a motion and pay a filing fee. After that, the court will grant the defendant a hearing with the original judge who sentenced them.
At that time, depending on the circumstances of the case and the arguments made by both the individual and the prosecution, the judge will determine if granting the defendant’s motion is proper.
If the court grants the defendant’s expungement, the court vacates the defendant’s prior conviction. In other words, it will be as if it never happened in the first place.
Prohibition of owning and possessing a firearm
However, even if the court grants the expungement, the individual cannot possess or own firearms for ten years per California law. The federal government expands that restriction beyond ten years to a lifetime ban. This means that regardless of the expungement, the individual will never be able to own or possess a firearm.
The process of expungement can be tenuous and time-consuming, but it is possible to remove it from a defendant’s record under certain circumstances. It is critical to think about this as an exception rather than a rule.