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Definition - What does Expungement mean?

Expungement may allow an individual who has been arrested or convicted of certain crimes to ask the court to erase or clear their criminal record and make their criminal history inaccessible to the public. Expungement of a DUI conviction allows the complaint to be dismissed and any disabilities which resulted from the dui conviction to be set aside. The process of expungement may also be called expunction.

The main benefit of expunging any type of criminal conviction is that it allows the defendant to clear their criminal record, and their past mistakes do not have to appear on a background check requested by employers, schools, landlords or other public record searches. Individuals also do not have to list them on job applications.

DWI expungement under Penal Code Section 1203.4 does not completely eliminate the record. For instance, law enforcement officers, government agencies and courts may have some access to review previous DUI convictions to determine sentencing if the defendant is arrested for DUI subsequent to the first DUI arrest.

Not all DUI convictions can be expunged and not all jurisdictions will allow expungements. In some states (such as California) persons may have to reveal their previous DUI convictions if they are requesting a license, answering direct questions on a questionnaire or application for public office, or contracting with the California State Lottery.

Expungement eligibility will vary based on the type and severity of the crime. Specific applications must be filed to request an expungement, and the applications must be reviewed by the appropriate criminal court and judge. Fees or a court hearing may be required. Expungements are common for juvenile offenders.

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