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Think You Can't Clear Your Record in California? Think Again

best criminal defense attorney in Orange County, Santa Ana, CA

As a seasoned defense attorney practicing in Santa Ana, California, I have seen firsthand the transformative power of expungement. My name is Steven A. Alexander, and over the years, I have dedicated my career to helping residents of Orange County navigate the complexities of the legal system to clear their records and reclaim their futures. In this article, I'll guide you through the expungement process, debunk common myths, and share success stories that demonstrate the profound impact of a clean record.

The Importance of Clearing Your Record

A criminal record can cast a long shadow over your life, affecting everything from job prospects to housing opportunities. Employers, landlords, and even educational institutions often conduct background checks, and a criminal record can be a significant barrier. However, expungement offers a way to mitigate these challenges.

Expungement doesn't erase your record entirely but updates it to show that you have completed all court requirements and that the court has dismissed your case. This can be a game-changer for those seeking to move forward in their lives without the constant burden of past mistakes.

What is Expungement?

Definition of Expungement

Expungement is a legal process that allows individuals to petition the court to review their criminal record and potentially dismiss past convictions. This means that the conviction is effectively "erased" from your public record, providing a fresh start for many.

Eligibility for Expungement

Eligibility for expungement in California depends on several factors, including the type of offense and the individual's compliance with the terms of their sentence. Generally, you may qualify if:

  • You have completed probation, or if probation was not ordered, at least one year has passed since the conviction.

  • You have fulfilled all conditions of your sentence, including fines, restitution, and community service.

  • You are not currently facing criminal charges or serving a sentence for another offense.

Certain serious offenses, such as specific sex crimes, may not be eligible for expungement. It's crucial to consult with a knowledgeable attorney, like myself, Steven A. Alexander, to understand your specific situation and eligibility.

The Expungement Process in California

Steps to Follow

The expungement process can seem daunting, but with the right guidance, it is manageable. Here are the typical steps involved:

  1. Gather Documentation: Collect all necessary documents, including your criminal record, case number, and details of your conviction.

  2. File a Petition: Submit a Petition for Dismissal (Form CR-180) to the court where you were convicted. This petition outlines your request for expungement.

  3. Serve the District Attorney: Provide a copy of your petition to the District Attorney's office.

  4. Court Hearing: Attend a court hearing where the judge will review your petition. Your attorney can represent you and argue on your behalf.

  5. Court Decision: If the judge grants your petition, your conviction will be dismissed, and your record will be updated accordingly.

Costs and Timelines

The costs associated with expungement can vary, including filing fees and potential attorney fees. While you can file the petition yourself, having an experienced attorney like Steven A. Alexander can significantly increase your chances of success. The timeline for the expungement process can range from a few months to a year, depending on the complexity of the case and the court's schedule.

Myths and Realities about Expungement

Debunking Common Myths

  1. "I can't expunge my record because it was a serious offense." While certain serious offenses are not eligible for expungement, many others are. Even some felonies can be reduced to misdemeanors and then expunged.

  2. "Expungement completely erases my criminal record." Expungement updates your record to show that your case was dismissed, but it doesn't erase the record entirely. Law enforcement and some licensing agencies may still see the original conviction.

  3. "I don't need a lawyer to expunge my record." While it's possible to file for expungement without an attorney, the process can be complex. An experienced attorney like Steven A. Alexander can navigate the legal system effectively, increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome.


Expungement offers significant benefits but also has limitations. It's essential to understand both to set realistic expectations. For instance, expunged records can still be considered by immigration authorities, and certain professional licenses may still be affected. However, for most employment and housing applications, expungement can provide a fresh start.

Success Stories

Real Cases of Expungement

One of my clients, John, was convicted of a non-violent felony in his early twenties. Despite serving his sentence and turning his life around, he struggled to find stable employment due to his criminal record. With my assistance, John successfully petitioned for expungement. Today, he holds a steady job and has even started his own business, free from the stigma of his past.

Another client, Maria, faced barriers in advancing her career in healthcare due to a misdemeanor conviction. We worked together to gather the necessary documentation and present a compelling case to the court. Her expungement was granted, allowing her to pursue further education and secure a better position within her field.

Resources and Available Help

Legal Assistance

If you're considering expungement, it's crucial to seek professional legal assistance. As Steven A. Alexander, I offer comprehensive consultations to evaluate your case and guide you through the expungement process. Contact my office for a free consultation to discuss your eligibility and the steps needed to clear your record.

Community Organizations

Several community organizations in Orange County provide resources and support for individuals seeking expungement. These include:

  • Orange County Public Defender's Office: Offers assistance with expungement petitions for eligible individuals.

  • Legal Aid Society of Orange County: Provides free or low-cost legal services, including help with expungement.

  • Community Action Partnership of Orange County: Connects residents with various legal resources and support services.


Clearing your record through expungement is not just a legal process; it's a chance to reclaim your life and future. As Steven A. Alexander, a dedicated and experienced defense attorney in Santa Ana, I have seen the profound impact that expungement can have on individuals and their families. Don't let past mistakes define your future. Reach out for a consultation today and take the first step towards a brighter tomorrow. If you or someone you know is struggling with the burden of a criminal record, don't wait. Contact my office for a free consultation and let me, Steven A. Alexander, help you navigate the path to expungement. Together, we can work towards clearing your record and opening up new opportunities for your future.

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