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Expunge Your Criminal Record

Expunge Your Criminal Record > 3 Reasons You Should Expunge Your Criminal Record

3 Reasons You Should Expunge Your Criminal Record

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Most people know that a criminal record can prevent you from landing employment or getting housing. However, a conviction can hurt you in other ways that aren't as obvious at first. Even if you don't care about the effect your past can have on your employment or housing prospects, here are three additional reasons you should consider getting your record expunged.


Avoid Losing Custody of Children

If you have children, a criminal record can prevent you from gaining custody of them and/or limit your visitation rights. The court's primary concern is what's in the best interest of the children involved. If you have a history of domestic violence or alcohol and drug addiction, the court may deny your request for custody and require supervised visitation if any is allowed.


Of course, the court will look at several factors before deciding whether your criminal record is relevant. For instance, the judge will consider when you were convicted, your punishment and whether you are a repeat offender. The worse your record looks, the higher the chances you won't be allowed custody of your children.


While the court may not go out of its way to delve into your criminal records, the other parent can bring the issue up at any time during the custody case. Therefore, the best way to ensure your past has no bearing on your future is to get your previous transgression expunged from your criminal record.

Improve Educational Prospects


Another reason you may want to expunge your criminal record is it can hurt your chances of being admitted into a college or university. According to available research, approximately 66 percent of secondary schools do criminal background checks as part of the applicant-screening process.

If the school finds something on your record it doesn't like, you may end up being denied entry. For instance, multiple assault and battery charges may lead the administration to think you're a violent person, and they'll reject your application out of fear you'll harm the other students.


Additionally, your criminal record can affect your ability to get approved for financial aid. People convicted of a sex offense and sentenced to jail cannot get Pell Grants. Some scholarships offered by schools, nonprofit organizations and private parties require students to have clean records, so you may be barred from applying for these alternative sources of funds.


By clearing your record, you can enjoy the privilege of applying to the school you want rather than settling for the school you can get into.


Travel to Another Country

A third reason you should work on expunging your record is you may be barred from traveling to another country if you have been convicted of certain crimes. Other countries prefer not to admit people who will only cause havoc within their borders, and they will typically screen visitors and disallow those convicted of crimes.


For example, Canada will turn away people who were convicted of alcohol-related offenses, such as a DUI. It won't matter if you are the driver or passenger of the vehicle you're currently in, whether the conviction was a misdemeanor or a felony or how long ago the conviction occurred. You won't be permitted in Canada with that offense on your record.


You can apply for special permission from the government, but this can get tiring after a while if you visit Canada often. Your best option is to expunge the previous convictions from your record so you can enjoy unrestricted travel.


Getting a criminal record expunged is no walk in the park, however. There are several requirements you must meet before you can clear your criminal record in California. Contact us for advice and assistance that could make the process a little easier.

Expunge Your Criminal Record > Charged With Shoplifting in California: What You Need to Know

Charged With Shoplifting in California: What You Need to Know

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Upwards of $13 billion in goods are shoplifted each year, according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention. While penalties for shoplifting are not as harsh as penalties for other crimes, those charged with shoplifting can still face fines and jail time. If you've been charged with shoplifting, here's what you need to know.

What Constitutes Shoplifting?

California law classifies shoplifting as theft. This crime is not as cut and dry as sticking something into your pocket and walking out of the store with it. You can be charged with shoplifting if you're suspected of committing any one of a number of various acts, such as changing the tag on an item with one of a lesser value. 

Even though you didn't intend to leave the store without paying for merchandise, switching tags is still considered shoplifting because it deprives the owner of the true value of the item. Likewise, finding a receipt in the parking lot and returning to the store to track down an identical item and returning it for a refund is also considered shoplifting.

What Are the Penalties for Theft?

The penalties for shoplifting depend on the value of the stolen items, the type of theft and your criminal history. Here's a breakdown.

Items Worth $50 or Less 

If you have no prior record, your shoplifting incident may be considered an infraction and you may be subject to fines of up to $250.

Items Valued Between $50 and $950  

With no prior record, you face a misdemeanor petty theft charge and a mandatory fine of up to $1,000.

Items Worth over $950

Depending on your criminal history and the specific circumstances of the theft, you may be charged with misdemeanor or felony petty theft and face up to a year of jail time.

Special Circumstances

There are circumstances where you may be charged with felony grand theft, even if the value is below $950. These circumstances include stealing a firearm or having a serious charge on your record, such as a forcible sex crime. In this case, you could face up to three years of jail time.

Most offenders, however, are charged with misdemeanor theft. 

What are the Options for First-Time Offenders?

Your options are more limited if you've been charged with shoplifting before. However, if you're a first-time offender, you may be eligible for what's referred to as a diversion program. It's designed to reduce the risk of reoffending by offering an alternative to prosecution.

Instead of being prosecuted for the crime, you would instead pay restitution in various ways, such as paying back the value of the items. Performing community service and complying with other program requirements as the court sees fit is another option.

In some circumstances, you may also receive a plea bargain whereby you agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge and penalty in exchange for avoiding jail time. You’ll still need to comply with court-ordered requirements, but your penalty will be less severe than it would have been otherwise. 

How Can Offenders Defend Shoplifting Charges?

Not everyone accused of shoplifting is guilty. It's the prosecutor's responsibility to prove that you intended to steal an item of value. If you did not intend to steal anything, then you have every right to mount a defense against the theft charges. 

There are a number of reasons an innocent person may be charged with petty theft. Perhaps you were distracted by your child who was having a tantrum in the store. In a panic to get your child out of the store and calm them down, you may have forgotten that you had an item in your hand. In this case, surveillance video may back up your account of events.

California law punishes individuals who take someone else's property without consent. If you're an adult charged with shoplifting, it's a good idea to consult with an experienced attorney to be advised of your rights and review your options. 

If you’ve been charged with shoplifting, whether you were guilty of the crime or not, call the lawyers at Kassel & Kassel for help defending your charges in court.

Expunge Your Criminal Record > When Your DUI Is Unwarranted:What Influenced Your BAC?

When Your DUI Is Unwarranted:What Influenced Your BAC?

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If you enjoy regularly drinking with friends or family, you most likely know how much you can handle. However, if you were pulled over after drinking your usual round and charged with a DUI, this can being infuriating. The officer's say isn't the final word; you can fight this charge and make a defense with the help of a lawyer. Take a look at a few factors that could've affected your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).


Your Medications or Illnesses Could've Raised Your BAC

Of course, you most likely know that bodily factors-age, height, weight, fat percentage, gender,etc.-can affect how much alcohol you can consume and how quickly you can process it. But keep in mind that any medication, no matter how innocuous,can have negative interactions with alcohol.

For instance, over-the-counter medications like cough syrups or cough drops contain trace amounts of alcohol. Even popping an aspirin or other NSAIDs can increase your BAC. So if you had a cold, flu, or other temporary bug during the time of your arrest, think back to what you took that day to combat the symptoms. Your analgesic could have been the real culprit in this case.

Over-the-counter medications aren't the only issue. If you were just diagnosed with a condition, you may not be fully aware of all the restrictions that come with it. For instance, if you started taking anti ulcer medications, you may have a lower alcohol metabolism, which can increase your BAC.

If you have acid reflux disease, the alcohol that leaked back up from your stomach could have increased residual alcohol levels in your mouth, thus skewing a breathalyzer test.

As you can see, innumerable medications and conditions can affect your BAC. If you're afraid your medications affected your BAC, talk with a professional attorney to build a strong defense.


The Breathalyzer May Have Been Defective

If you do a quick Google search, you'll find that breathalyzer tests can be very inaccurate. While an officer could test your urine or draw blood for a more accurate result, breathalyzers are used because they're quick and easy. And since these machines measure air that is exhaled, their reading scan sometimes be very off if you accidentally burp, vomit, or sneeze.

Funnily enough,a judge in Canada actually deemed one breathalyzer model to being effective, so thousands of DUI charges in that county may be questioned. And a few years ago in Washington D.C., hundreds of people were charged for intoxicated driving even though the breathalyzers were not calibrated correctly.

If you have a small drink on the night of your DUI arrest,and somehow your BAC was ridiculously high, it's worth your while to have your lawyer look into the breathalyzer that was used.


Stressors May Have Looked Like Impairment


Were you particularly stressed out or fatigued the night of your arrest? Even these unseen stress or scan physically affect your body. When you're stressed, your body diverts blood flow from digestion in your stomach to other muscles as part of the"fight or flight"response. This in turn causes your body to decrease the rate of absorption.

When your body has a lower rate of absorption, your BAC may rise steeply later on. And if you were fatigued along with being stressed, your tiredness could translate to impairment to an officer observing you.

What could also add to your stressors and high BAC level? Possibly the laws in your state. Many states have an implied consent law, meaning that since you have a driver's license, you must consent to a breath, urine, or blood test if your officer has probable cause. This implied consent can be quite nerve-racking for many-even if you know you aren't intoxicated.

And if you end up turning an officer down in California, you could face hefty fines, jail time, or even the suspension of your license. These variables can add even more anxiety to an already stressful situation.

In short, there are factors you can consider when building a defense. Talk with your lawyer about any or all of these issues and how they may have affected your BAC.



Expunge Your Criminal Record > What You Should Know When Facing an Elder Abuse Charge

What You Should Know When Facing an Elder Abuse Charge

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Dementia and other degenerative disorders can cause elderly individuals to become confused and disoriented. Consequently, they sometimes make false accusations about elder abuse. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of an elderly individual accusing you of inflicting physical injury or pain, an elder abuse defense attorney can help. Below, we'll discuss what you should know when facing an elder abuse charge.

Legal Consultation

The first step you should take when accused of elder abuse is to talk to a defense lawyer with experience defending elder abuse cases. Elder abuse is a serious crime; therefore, consult with an attorney before speaking with anyone else about the situation. Even though you know you're innocent, anything you say to the authorities can be used against you.

State Elder Law

If you live in a state that has specific laws relating to elder abuse, the prosecution must prove that you knew the victim was over the age of 65. Regardless of the person's age, physically abusing someone is against the law. But you may face a stiffer criminal penalty in a state that has elder abuse laws.

Strength of Evidence

In order for the prosecutor to move forward with the case, he or she must have sufficient factual evidence to prove the case. Your attorney will work to have the charges against you dropped by looking for flaws in the prosecutor's case against you. Any allegations an elder makes must be backed by evidence to support them. Otherwise, the prosecutor or the court will dismiss the charges.

The lack of physical evidence and corroborating witnesses isn't the only way to get the charges dismissed. While investigating the allegations, your lawyer may discover that the person has a history of mental illness or has made false accusations against others in the past.

Your lawyer can also get the charges dropped if he or she discovers that the authorities did not gather evidence in the appropriate manner. In that case, the judge rules the evidence inadmissible. Hearsay evidence isn't admissible either.

Possible Defenses

Lack of intent is an effective defense if your lawyer can show that an injury to the victim was an accident. The prosecution may not be able to prove willful intent, especially if you can show that you attempted to take reasonable care of the individual in the particular incident in question. Or you must demonstrate that you did not foresee that your actions or failure to act would cause injury.

The court also will not hold you criminally liable in a situation where the elderly individual became physically aggressive or violent toward you or another person. However, you must show that your own physical safety or that of another individual was at risk and the use of immediate force was necessary to protect yourself or others from harm. Even so, you must show that you used no more force than necessary to defend yourself against the elder's threatening actions.

Elderly memory loss may be another avenue for defense. If the person experiences memory problems because of Alzheimer's disease or as a side effect of medication, he or she may unintentionally accuse you of wrongdoing. The person may have hallucinations, such as hearing voices or seeing people who aren't there, that seem very real, distorting their perceptions of what's happening to them.

Credibility

Unless there are witnesses to the abuse, alleged victims who appear cognitively impaired may be doubted when they relate their accounts of the events. When it comes to establishing your own credibility, your character and a positive reputation are essential factors.

The authorities are more likely to believe that you treated your accuser with care and dignity if you continue to show compassion and respect toward the elder even as you defend yourself against false accusations.



If you've been charged with elder abuse or another criminal offense and are in need of legal defense, call the law offices of Kassel & Kassel A Group of Independent Law Offices. Attorney Gregory H. Kassel has the experience and expertise to help you.

Expunge Your Criminal Record > Don't Let the Past Affect Your Future—Expunge Your Criminal Record

Don't Let the Past Affect Your Future—Expunge Your Criminal Record

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Most people know that a serious criminal record can follow a person throughout his or her life, but many people are surprised to discover that minor criminal offenses can wreak havoc as well.

If you have ever been convicted of (or even arrested for) a minor criminal offense like shoplifting or failure to appear, these charges could affect your ability to move forward with your life. Employers and landlords regularly ask if you have been convicted of a criminal offense, and checking "yes" could cost you a job or an apartment—no matter how minor the offense may be.

Opting to have your record expunged will ensure that your past mistakes don't affect your ability to move forward in the future. Here are three things that you need to know about expunging your records in order to use this process for your benefit.

1. Most Records Can Be Expunged, But Not All Crimes Are Eligible

When you are trying to determine if you want to invest in expunging your criminal record, it can be beneficial to look at the types of entries that are included on your criminal record before you proceed.

Many factors can affect a person's eligibility when it comes to expunging a criminal record. Some of these factors include the amount of time that has passed since the conviction, the severity of your crime, and whether or not you successfully completed the terms of your punishment and/or probation.

It can be helpful to meet with an attorney who has experience assisting clients with expunging their records to determine your eligibility as you consider expunging your own criminal record.

2. Expunging Your Record Only Goes So Far

Many people mistakenly assume that once their record has been expunged, any prior arrests or convictions will be permanently deleted from their permanent record. It's important to recognize that your prior arrests and convictions may still be accessed by police departments or certain licensing agencies.

The main purpose of expunging your records is to prevent arrests and convictions from appearing in public searches. Then landlords or employers will no longer be able to view your prior criminal history, and you can mark "no" when asked if you have been arrested or convicted of a crime when you fill out job or rental applications.

An attorney will be able to look over your prior criminal record and tell you exactly how expunging this record will affect you in the future.

3. Expunging Your Record Can Take Time

If you want to expunge your criminal record in order to prepare for an upcoming move or other major life event, you need to start the process early.

In order to successfully remove criminal arrests and convictions from your record, you will need to fill out many forms, collect supplementary evidence supporting your case, and possibly appear in court to defend your petition to have your record expunged. These steps in the process of expunging your records can take time, so you need to plan accordingly and begin working to remove your criminal record well in advance of any major life event you are preparing for.

Your attorney will be able to help you gain greater insight into the projected timeline for your individual case when you first meet to discuss expunging your criminal records.

Having the ability to remove the burden of a prior criminal record allows you to move forward and rebuild your life. Schedule an appointment with one of the experienced attorneys at Kassel & Kassel A Group of Independent Law Offices to discuss how expunging your criminal record can benefit you in the future.