Law Offices of
David Elliott Wise

Criminal Records

CAN YOU CLEAR YOUR CRIMINAL RECORD AND GET A “CLEAN SLATE”: Employment, Professional Licenses, Expungement, Criminal Record Sealing, Factual Findings of Innocence

This is a very general summary of a few important things to considering your job and career with a criminal arrest or criminal case. I know I’m a criminal defense lawyer so you expect to hear it – but it’s still true - if you don’t consult with a criminal defense attorney about it, you’re probably going to miss an important fact, local or state law or procedural consideration that could hurt you. San Francisco Criminal Defense Lawyer David Elliott Wise is available to help. So then....

Do you have special work, employer, licensing and professional considerations? This is listed first, because I always talk to people that have no idea that if they plea guilty, thinking they are just “getting it over with,” they are in fact leaving a black mark on their record that can haunt them for the rest of their working lives. The critical point is that you need to be one hundred percent aware of these (and other) potential consequences. I have represented doctors and lawyers who were unclear about this.

Even if you are only arrested, and never plead guilty, you have a public record of arrest, and possibly of a criminal case filed against you. It a criminal complaint was filed, but the case was dismissed on the first day of court, you still have a public record of arrest and of having a criminal complaint filed against you.

Unfortunately these records are regularly gathered by private database companies that put the records on their computer system and then get paid by companies and governments to background checks of current or prospective employees. Almost all job applications ask people , to varying degrees, if they have been arrested or convicted of crimes. In a competitive job market, no one wants to be the applicant who has to write “yes”, or even worse, write “no”, then have an arrest come up.

Luckily, there are ways to try to clean up this problem before it hurts you and your career.

But first, who should be concerned?

  1. Are you a professional who needs a professional license to work, such as doctor, lawyer, teacher, nurse who will be negatively impacted if a is construed as a crime of “moral turpitude”, violence, or dishonesty, such that you could lose your government or trade association governed professional license? Professional licenses are necessary for many kinds of work, including some that people don’t even think about, such as:
    • Landscaper
    • Hair stylist
    • Contractor
    • Caregiver
    • Child care
    • Nurse, EMT
    • Accountant, Lawyer, Doctor, law enforcement
    • Many, many others.
  2. Could you get in trouble with your employer if they do a criminal background check of public court records and see that you had a case, or an arrest or a conviction for a crime?
  3. If you apply for a job in the future, will you employer be concerned if they do a criminal background check of public court records, and see that you have a criminal arrest, conviction or criminal court case?
  4. Are you a non citizen? Will this change your status? Do you want to try to avoid deportation or denial of re-entry? Are you trying to establish “good moral character” for citizenship?
  5. Are you in a profession that is especially concerned with the appearance of particular negative character traits, like dishonesty for an accountant, violence for a nurse or teacher, bad driving for commercial drivers? Do you have a criminal arrest, court case or conviction for such an offense?

There are ways to fix the problem of the damaged criminal record. Some of them, including retroactive dismissal, expungement, record sealing, and factual findings of innocence, can help the problem. In fact a Factual Finding of Innocence is one of the best ways to be able tell anyone that you have never even been arrested ….even if you were. This is also the most difficult remedy to achieve. See as well my related article “Criminal Cases and Your Job” .

Making any decision about your case, you need to discuss the facts and the local law with an attorney experienced in expungement / professional licenses / criminal record clearance. San Francisco Criminal Defense Attorney David Elliott Wise is available to help.

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