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An “expungement”, record sealing or dismissal is a change to your criminal record after a guilty verdict, guilty plea, or no contest plea. If you are eligible for a dismissal and complete the terms of your probation, you can make a petition for the court to change your criminal conviction to a dismissal. This effectively means you are no longer considered to be “convicted” of the crime. If you have been convicted of a crime and worry about your criminal record, talk to your experienced East Bay criminal defense attorney to understand your rights after a convict

Expunge Your Criminal Charges in California

Under California Penal Code §1203.4, individuals who are convicted of an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony and are not sentenced to state prison, can petition for a dismissal of their criminal charges. A dismissal, sometimes called an expungement or record sealing, will change your criminal record to show a dismissal instead of a conviction. A criminal conviction can make it more difficult for people to get jobs and a dismissal can help improve employment opportunities.

In order to petition to have your criminal record dismissed, you must first be eligible for expungement or record sealing. You must have completed your county jail or probation period. A Petition for Dismissal, forms in support of your request, and court costs and fees, if required, are submitted to the court. If approved, you will appear before the judge and the judge will dismiss your case.

Criminal Record and California Job Opportunities

California has a “ban the box” law where employers are prohibited from asking an applicant about their criminal history until after a conditional offer of employment is made. These laws are intended to provide ex-offenders an opportunity to get back into the workforce and move on with their lives.

However, even if employers cannot ask about criminal convictions in an application or interview, employers can still consider convictions after offering the individual a job. By having the applicant's criminal record expunged, they will not be considered “convicted” of a crime, which may increase their chances of employment.

What Criminal Charges are Eligible for Expungement?

In order to be eligible for a dismissal, record sealing or expungement, you cannot have been sentenced to state prison. You are eligible if you were sentenced to county jail time, probation, and/or a fine.

If you received probation for the conviction, you may be eligible for a dismissal if you:

  • Successfully completed probation or obtained early release;
  • You made all court ordered and restitution payments;
  • You are not serving another sentence or on probation for another offense; and
  • You are not charged with another offense.

If you did not receive probation for a misdemeanor conviction, you may be eligible for a dismissal if you:

  • Wait at least a year after the date of conviction;
  • Successfully completed your sentence;
  • You made all court ordered and restitution payments;
  • You are not serving another sentence or on probation for another offense; and
  • You are not charged with another offense; and
  • Have obeyed the law since the conviction.

If you did not receive probation for a felony conviction, you may be eligible for a dismissal if you:

  • Were placed on “mandatory supervision” for part of your sentence and more than a year has passed since you completed your sentence;
  • You were not placed on mandatory suspension and at least two years have passed since completing your sentence;
  • You are not serving another sentence or on probation for another offense and are not charged with another offense; and
  • The court finds it is in the interests of justice.

Certain convictions are not eligible for dismissal or expungement. This includes certain sex offenses with a child, child pornography, and statutory rape.

Who Can See My Criminal Record?

In California, your criminal record is a public document. Most people have access to view the public arrest and conviction records of individuals. If an employer does a background check after a dismissal, the type of background check may determine whether the dismissal shows up. If the background check shows the criminal charge, it should also show that the charge was dismissed.

For employment in California, most private employers are prohibited from asking about your criminal record in an application or initial interview. Employers cannot ask about your criminal record until after extending a conditional offer of employment. Even then, the employer is required to evaluate the candidate for the position in light of their record.

After an expungement of conviction dismissal, there may still be limitations on your rights. For example, if you conviction results in you not being able to own or possess a firearm, a dismissal will still mean you are unable to legally own or possess a firearm. Similarly, if you are required to register as a sex offender, the dismissal will not change that requirement.

East Bay Criminal Defense Attorney

Lynn Gorelick has more than 30 years of criminal defense experience defending her clients facing misdemeanor and felony criminal charges, including expunging charges to clear criminal records. She understands how to approach the individual facts of each case for the greatest chance of success, giving her clients an opportunity to maintain a clean record. Whether you are arrested in Fremont, Richmond or anywhere else in Contra Costa County or Alameda County, contact Lynn Gorelick.

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