Have You Been Convicted of a Drug Crime?

In the State of California, “sealing” is the legal process that makes the record of an arrest or a conviction unavailable to the public. In California, some criminal records are automatically sealed, but you may need the advice and services of an Orange County drug crimes attorney.

If you’ve been convicted of a drug crime, and you’ve completed your sentence, you may be wondering, “Can my criminal record be sealed or expunged?” Expungement, which entirely erases the record of an arrest or a criminal conviction, is not usually available in California.

However, if you need to have an arrest record for a drug crime sealed, or if you need to have a drug crime conviction sealed, it may be possible under California’s Clean Slate Act, which lets you move forward with your life without being held back by a drug conviction or arrest record.

Why Should Your Drug Crime Conviction Be Sealed?

In most states, a conviction for a drug crime can follow you for years after you’ve completed your sentence and impair your ability to locate housing, find employment, attend certain colleges, obtain a loan, qualify for public benefits, vote, or possess a firearm.

The Clean Slate Act automates the sealing process for those who are eligible. When a drug conviction is sealed, it no longer appears on housing or employment background checks, and it lets eligible persons say truthfully on most job applications that they have never been convicted.

After a conviction is sealed, you only have to admit to a conviction if you run for public office or apply to work in education, law enforcement, for the state lottery commission, or as an in-home healthcare provider. However, sealing your record does not restore your right to own a firearm.

How Does the Clean Slate Act Work?

In 2023, California’s Clean Slate Act (Senate Bill 731) took effect. It applies to most arrests and convictions that took place after January 1, 1973. The Clean Slate Act applies to misdemeanors and many felonies, but it does not apply to violent felonies or to felonies that are sex crimes.

Along with its predecessor, Assembly Bill 1076, the Clean Slate Act eliminates many of the long-term consequences of most California drug crime convictions. Under these two laws:

  1.  A misdemeanor arrest with no charge filed is sealed immediately.
  2.  A misdemeanor charge with no conviction is sealed upon the completion of the case.
  3.  Misdemeanor convictions with probation are sealed on the completion of probation.
  4.  Misdemeanor convictions with jail time are sealed one year after the sentence is served.
  5.  A felony arrest with no charge filed is sealed three years after the arrest.
  6.  A felony arrest with no conviction is sealed upon the case’s completion.
  7.  Felony convictions with probation are sealed on the completion of probation.
  8.  Felony convictions with prison time are sealed four years after the sentence is served.

In some drug cases, the judge will suspend your sentence if you agree to take part in a treatment program. If a judge suspends your sentence, orders you to a drug treatment program (drug “diversion”), and you successfully complete the program, your record is automatically sealed.

How Can You Know Your Record Has Been Sealed?

The sealing process is supposed to be automatic, but sometimes there are mistakes. An Orange County drug crimes lawyer can help you determine if there has been a mistake and whether you are entitled to have a drug arrest or drug conviction record sealed.

If a prosecutor or probation office tries to prevent your drug arrest or conviction record from being sealed, contact an Orange County drug crimes lawyer at once. Your lawyer will negotiate with the prosecutor or probation office or, if necessary, advocate for you before a judge.

If, for any reason, your drug arrest or drug conviction record is ineligible for automatic sealing, an Orange County drug crimes attorney can determine if there are any steps you can take to have the record sealed.

Can Your Firearm Rights Be Restored?

The automatic sealing of your drug arrest or drug conviction record in California does not allow you to own a firearm if the original conviction terminated your firearm rights. However:

  1.  After misdemeanor convictions that revoke your firearm rights, those rights may be restored after ten years.
  2.  If you were convicted on a felony “wobbler” charge, you may be allowed to have that charge reduced to a misdemeanor.
  3.  Firearm rights are usually restored when someone receives a gubernatorial pardon.

If you meet the requirements to have your firearm rights restored, or if you’re not sure, you’ll need to consult a California criminal defense lawyer who can offer personalized legal advice and discuss how the law applies to your own case.

What About Federal Drug Cases?

Expungements usually are not available in federal drug cases, although the arrest and conviction records for the simple possession of a controlled substance may be expunged if the offender was under 21 at the time and does not have a prior conviction for a drug offense.

You may also petition the president of the United States for a pardon after a federal drug conviction. As you would expect, this option is only for someone who completes his or her sentence, takes responsibility for his or her actions, and is now a productive member of society.

An Orange County criminal defense lawyer who handles federal drug cases can advise you about expunging a federal drug arrest or conviction record or seeking a presidential pardon. If you qualify, your lawyer will handle the legal paperwork and guide you throughout the process.

Let the Law Office of Diane C. Bass Fight for the Justice You Need

If you’re charged with a drug crime in Southern California, take your case at once to Orange County defense attorney Diane C. Bass. For more than twenty-five years, she has advised and defended clients charged with drug crimes in California’s federal and state courts.

The Law Office of Diane C. Bass will evaluate your drug case with no obligation or cost, and we know how to win the justice you need. Attorney Diane C. Bass will negotiate for an acceptable plea deal or take the case before a jury and advocate for your acquittal.

While protecting your rights and fighting aggressively on your behalf, attorney Diane C. Bass will bring the case to its best possible outcome. If you are seeking to have a drug arrest record or drug conviction record sealed, or if you need to learn more about having a criminal record sealed, call the Law Office of Diane C. Bass immediately at 949-577-8368.