In California, a felony is defined as a crime that carries a maximum sentence of more than a year in custody and/or a fine of up to $10,000. There are two types of felonies in California: straight and wobbler. A straight felony is the more serious and cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor. Wobbler felonies, on the other hand, can be charged either as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the prosecutor. A felony will fall into one category or the other depending on the specific facts of each case as well as the past criminal history of the defendant.
Once you have been charged with a felony, it goes on your record. This record can then be seen by law enforcement and other agencies and can affect any number of aspects of your personal and public life. Added to this, California is a “three strikes” state, meaning if three felonies are on your record, you must serve at least 25 years in state prison.
How Does Having A Felony On Your Record Affect You?
A felony record can have a massive impact on your life. Under California law, you are required to disclose federal convictions to a prospective employer. That employer is then legally within their rights to deny you employment due to that past conviction. The ability to obtain professional licenses, such as a liquor license, may be impacted by your record as well.
A felon cannot possess any firearms and cannot join the armed forces unless they receive a waiver to do so from the Secretary of Defense. While convicted felons can run for office, they must publicly disclose their conviction. A felony record also impacts the ability to vote (at least while you are imprisoned or on parole) or serve on a jury.
Can Felonies Be Removed From Your Record?
Without intervention, a felony stays on your record forever. The only way to remove a felony from your record is to have it expunged, which essentially annuls the crime. There are limits to expungement, however, as not every crime is eligible.
Even when a crime has been expunged from your record, there are certain circumstances where it still must be disclosed. These include applying for public office and applying for a California state license, such as a contractor’s license.
What Can You Do To Clear Your Record Of A Felony Conviction?
The first step is determining if your felony is eligible for expungement. Note that if you are currently charged with a criminal offense, on probation, or serving a sentence, you are not eligible for expungement. Certain crimes, such as sex crimes against children, are never able to be expunged.
If the above does not apply to you, however, you are free to seek expungement. To answer any questions pertaining to felony records and to get you the legal help you need, contact us now at 562-991-6298