How to Expunge or Seal a Drug Charge or Conviction
The laws for record sealing and expungement vary from state to state, including eligibility requirements for record sealing, the cost of filing fees, and waiting period to file the petition for record clearing from the time that the offense occurred. Therefore, it is essential that you research the individual laws of the state where your offense occurred, or hire an attorney who is well versed in clearing drug records in your respective state.
Before You Can Expunge a Drug Possession Charge
You must have completed the necessary waiting period in order to petition to have your drug record sealed or expunged, which, in most cases, begins when probation or parole is completed. Once you have completed the waiting period, you may proceed with the expungement or sealing process. The most important step in clearing your drug offense is making sure that you are eligible before spending money on filing fees and background checks. The easiest way to verify your eligibility is to take a free online eligibility test free online eligibility test . In general, you are eligible for a drug record sealing or expungement in California if you:
- Completed your sentence
- Are not facing additional charges
- Completed your probation
- Successfully completed a court ordered drug diversion program 1
- Successfully completed a court ordered deferred entry of judgement program 2
If you are eligible to clear your drug charge from your record, then you will begin the clearing process by filing a petition in the same court where the case for your drug offense was handled. Filing fees differ according to county, so check with the court clerk of your respective county courthouse for filing fee costs and information about filing your case. It is important to remember that while the court clerks are able to supply you with information about your case, such as the name of your arresting agency, the date of your arrest and conviction, and your case identification number, they are legally unable to help you to fill out your petition and cannot offer you any legal advise.
When calling the court clerk for information, it is also beneficial to be prepared with the specific information that you need to file your petition, and be able to provide as much information about yourself such as your legal name, your date of birth, and your case number so that the court clerk can readily find your case
After filing all necessary documents for your case, your petition will be taken to court where the District Attorney can object to your petition on behalf of the state. In turn, you, or your representation, are able to present testimonies and evidence to the judge on your behalf. Though not legally mandatory, you should be prepared to offer evidence that speaks to the progress you have made since your drug charge.
Such evidence may include pictures, community service hours completed, completed certificates, awards that you have won, and testimonies or letters of recommendation from community leaders such as employers, professors, church leaders, or the director from your local recovery programs, like Narcotics Anonymous. To learn other benefits of getting your drug record expunged, read our page on Benefits of Expunging a Drug Record.
Why Expunge a Drug Possession Charge?
Once your drug offense is sealed from your criminal record, you can legally say that you were not arrested or convicted for that drug charge. You can deny the record of that charge on applications for employment, housing, and financial aid, which may make it easier to find steady employment, or desirable housing, finish your education, or obtain many professional certificates and licenses