Permanent Resident- Charged with Embezzlement (CIMT) over $20,000?I've been living as a permanent resident for the past 22years, and i was charged with embezzlement (paid restitution of $24,000) back in 2006. No time served in jail, was placed in probation for 2years. No prior/ after criminal history, just wanted to know if there's a way to either expunge or to reduce my charges so that I can be eligible for traveling/ green card renewal/ applying for citizenship. Talked to few lawyers, and they said they can do it but don't trust them since they just want large lump of money. Any assistance would be appreciated.
Hello Jacustomer,California's expungement isn't a true expungement. It's a set-aside, meaning it's a dismissal. With this, you can say that you have no criminal convictions, but the government can always see underneath the "eraser marks" to the actual offense and plea agreement. So you're eligible for this under California law, but you would still be required to tell USCIS that you'd been convicted of a felony which was dismissed. Anything else, USCIS would consider fraudulent.The lawyers who were looking for heavy fees were taking advantage of you. Expungement is the one of the few areas of law where no lawyer is necessary. California makes it pretty easy to expunge a felony conviction. They even offer a free website which will give you step by step instructions to get it done, as well as links to the forms. Here's the link to California's expungement self-help center. The site will allow you to check your eligibility for an expungment (I believe you'll find you are eligible) and then will walk you through the rest of it.When you use the self-help link above and get to the home page, click on "Criminal Law" from the column on the left. Then click on "Cleaning your Criminal Record," scroll down towards the bottom of the page to the links and expand them so that you can see all of the steps.
Thank you for a speedy reply and the info provided. Just few more questions: I was originally charged/convicted in NC (9th Circuit) back in 2006- "Class H Embezzlement". Finished my 2 yr probation, finished college (UNC-CH), then moved to California back in 2008. Am I still eligible for this dismissal program in California? Any possible info where I can find ways to keep my green card & travel in and out would be great. Thanks again for your assistance.
Hello Ian,I am sorry but this is going to change the entire picture. You cannot get an expungement in California to remove a North Carolina case. The only state that has jurisdiction over that offense is North Carolina, and that's where you'd have to get it expunged. While California is fairly generous as states go, when it comes to helping a former offender to clean up his record, North Carolina is just the opposite. Here is an overview of the North Carolina expungement law, (See link) and unfortunately, as you can see North Carolina will not expunge an adult felony conviction under any circumstances.That's probably why the attorneys you spoke to wanted to charge you a great deal of money. About the only thing you can do -- and some judges will not consider this -- is to retain a lawyer to petition the court and see if the judge would be willing to dismiss or reduce your old charge in the interest of justice. Judges have the power to do this, but they don''t like to use it unless a lawyer can show a compelling interest that will outweigh the state's desire to punish wrongdoers. It would probably be an expensive proposition to go this and a long-shot at that.
Thanks Fran, you've been such a big help.
Are there anything else that I can pursue to somehow get myself back on track? I havent received any deportation letter or anything, the immigration lawyer said that I should be fine living in the states w/ my current green card w/o committing anymore crimes (even the traffic tickets), and although my green card expired last year the lawyer told me not to renew it. I just feel like there's got to be something that can change my life, I've spent my whole life studying to go to a good college but now i'm stuck because of my one bad choice made when I was young.
Thank you again.
Hello again, Ian,I understand your frustration, but unfortunately the lawyer you consulted with had it right. You can stay here, lay low, and hope that the law will become more favorable to you, and very slowly but surely it does seem to be heading in that direction. But the only thing other than that is to spend a great deal of money for a chance that may not work.I thought I was going to be able to give you good news, when I saw that you were in California. I'm sorry instead to be the bearer of bad. The dismissal or reduction in the interest of justice is the only way to get this down below a felony.
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