Monday, December 3, 2012

How long does a California Expungement take?

Like so many questions involving the practice of law, the answer is "it depends"

Several factors impact the length of time an expungement takes to go through the court system. Some of these factors are: the length of time between the conviction and the filing of the expungement; whether or not the case is in the current computer system at the courthouse where the expungement needs to be filed; whether or not the case is a felony or misdemeanor; how complex the case is; whether or not the case file is in storage off-site from the courthouse where the expungement needs to be processed; and if the Court wants a Probation Report prepared prior to the Court hearing.

Cases that are less than 10 years old usually process reasonably fast, as the files are still physically on site at most courthouses in California. Also, cases that are recent are automated and often times the entire case is available as an electronic docket so that the clerk's office and the court can have instant access to the entire history of the case.

Older cases are often placed in a central storage area that is commonly called the “archives”. Once a case has been sent to archives it is often processed into microfiche, or a similar optical storage process.

In some counties, such as Los Angeles County, felony cases are moved to a central storage facility near downtown, and retrieval of those cases can often take 60 to 90 days before the expungement process even starts in the courthouse where the case occurred.

Some courthouses tend to be very efficient in processing expungements and “turn around” petitions in 6 to 8 weeks; Van Nuys Court in LA County and the Newport Beach Court in Orange County tend to be pretty quick in processing expungements that are less than 10 years old.

Generally speaking, you can count on your expungement taking in the neighborhood of 90 to 120 days, but certain courts or older cases and can take up to six months.

When you call us for telephone consultation we will be able to give you a better idea of a more precise time that your expungement petition will probably take. That being said, expungement petitions are not a priority for the court system, and there is no time limit associated with expungement petitions, so sometimes delays of weeks or months occur.

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