Very few people are proud of having a criminal record, even when they earn it by actually being guilty of a crime. But what happens when you have a criminal record for something that you weren’t even charged with, or when you were charged with a crime, the criminal justice system mistakenly lists a more severe charge?
Unfortunately, there are all kinds of errors that can appear on a criminal record and adversely impact your life.
If you find that you have a criminal record where none should exist or that your criminal record inaccurately reflects a more severe crime, a California criminal defense lawyer may be able to help set your record straight.
How Mistakes on Criminal Records can Occur
Material errors on criminal records are rare, but they do occur. Here are some of the ways that a mistake on your record may occur:
- Cases of mistaken identity
- The arresting officer charged you under the wrong statute
- The courts listed the wrong charge while you were being prosecuted
- Your criminal defense lawyer negotiated a different charge with the state, but that was never amended on your record.
There are many steps in the criminal justice process and all of those are subject to human error. If you find that your criminal record is inaccurate, contact a criminal defense lawyer.
Arrest Record vs. a Conviction Record
Many people use the term “criminal record” to describe both an arrest record and a conviction record. While both will appear on your criminal history, an arrest and a conviction are in no way the same thing.
The police use the standard of probable cause to determine whether or not a party should be charged with the crime. Probable cause means that it is more likely than not that the defendant is guilty.
The courts, on the other hand, use the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard to determine guilt. Both your arrests and your convictions appear on criminal history.
Sealing Criminal Records
The state of California allows records to be sealed under the following circumstances:
- An arrest was made but charges were not filed
- An arrest was made, charges were filed, but the case was dismissed
- The defendant wins their case at trial
- The defendant completes a pretrial intervention
- The defendant was convicted, but the conviction was reversed on appeal
The state of California does not allow expungement, but that is available in other states.
Correcting a Mistake on the Record
There is a process to contest incorrect entries on your criminal record through the state. You can submit a challenge to the California Department of Justice. While your challenge is being processed, the CDOJ will attach a copy to your criminal history. The challenge can take up to two weeks to process and the CDOJ will return a copy of your amended criminal record if they find that the challenge was warranted.
Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have a challenge to your criminal history or you are interested in seeing if your record can be sealed, contact a criminal defense lawyer. They can advise you of the best course of action to take. In regions like San Diego, lawyer Bajaj is familiar with the regional process. You’ve to look in your region for the best criminal defence lawyer.