To Clear (Expunge) A Criminal Record In California
A California Criminal Record
What Were The Details Of Your Conviction?
In order to begin cleaning up your criminal
record, you first need to know what is on your criminal
record. The court will require you to fill out forms.
Whether you are requesting a dismissal or a Certificate
of Rehabilitation, you will need to know the details
of your convictions(s) in order to complete the forms.
Also, certain details will affect whether you are
eligible. There are several details you will need
to know in order to accomplish your goals:
- Your Case Number(s) [Sometimes called docket
- Your Date(s) of Conviction(s) [The date of your
plea or verdict.]
- The Code Name(s) and Section Number(s) you were
convicted of violating.
- Was there a "Verdict" or did you "Enter
a Plea"? If you Entered a Plea, was it "Guilty"
or "Nolo Contendere" (No Contest)?
- Were you ordered to serve any time on "Probation"?
If so, how long? [Formal and informal probation
are treated the same.]
- Were you ordered to pay any "Fines,"
"Restitution," or "Reimbursement"?
- If you were sentenced to state prison, which
- If you were sentenced to state prison, what
date were you released?
- If you were released on "Parole,"
what date did your parole end?
Get a Copy of Your Criminal Records Information.
Your criminal records information can be obtained
from a variety of sources. Below is a list of the
sources most commonly used.
Your court papers received at
the time of conviction.
where you were convicted. They will
only have information for convictions from that
county and not other counties. You will need to
make a copy of your order(s) of judgment.
State Department of Justice
, Criminal Records
Division. They will have your criminal records
information for the entire State of California.
They are located at 4949 Broadway, First Floor
Fingerprinting Office, Sacramento, California.
Their phone number is (916) 227-3400. There is
a fee, but you may be eligible for a fee waiver.
You must provide written proof of your income.
It may take several weeks for the record to arrive
in the mail.
Your Options. Depending on your particular
situation, you may have the following options:
If you were convicted of a misdemeanor and are still
on probation, you may request early release from probation
and file petition to have conviction dismissed. To
do this, file a PC 1203.3 petition to have probation
terminated early, and PC 1203.4
petition for expungement.
If you were convicted of a misdemeanor and have successfully
completed probation you may file a petition to have
conviction dismissed. To do this, file a PC
1203.4 petition for expungement.
If you were convicted of a misdemeanor and were never
given any probation at all, you may file a petition
to have conviction dismissed. To do this, file a PC
petition for expungement
You were convicted of a felony and are still on probation
you may request early release from probation and file
a petition to have your conviction reduced to misdemeanor
and dismissed. To do this, file a PC 1203.3 petition
to have probation terminated early. Also file a PC
17(b) petition to get felony reduced, and PC 1203.4
petition for expungement.
If you were convicted of a felony and are done with
probation and/or county jail time you may file petition
to have conviction reduced and dismissed. To do this,
file a PC 17(b) petition to get the felony reduced,
and a PC 1203.4
petition for expungement
If you were convicted of a felony and were never
given any probation at all and were sentenced to county
jail, you may file a petition to have felony reduced
to a misdemeanor and file petition to have conviction
dismissed. To do this file a PC 17(b) petition to
get felony reduced and a PC
1203.4a petition for expungement.
You were convicted of a felony and were sentenced
to state prison or under the authority of the California
Department of Corrections, you may file a petition
for Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon.
Dismissal Of Cases Not Involving State Prison
Sentences: If you were convicted of a misdemeanor
or a felony and were not sentenced to state prison
or under the authority of the California Department
of Corrections you can petition for a dismissal. This
means you were given county jail time, probation,
a fine, or a combination of those three. If you are
petitioning for a dismissal, the court upon proper
motion, may withdraw your guilty or nolo contendere
(no contest) plea, or verdict of guilt if you went
to trial, and enter a not guilty plea. Then the court
will set aside and dismiss the conviction. From that
point forward, you are considered no longer convicted
of the offense. Your record will be changed to show
a dismissal rather than a conviction.
You are Eligible if:
- If you were given probation, you have either
completed it or obtained early release. If you
violated your probation and it was either reinstated
or revoked, then the court has discretion whether
or not to grant you a dismissal.
- If you were not given probation, it has been
at least one year since the date of conviction.
- You have paid all fines, restitution and reimbursement
ordered by the court as part of your sentence.
- You are not currently under arraignment for
a new criminal offense (charges pending), nor
are you on probation for another offense.
If you were convicted of any of the following offenses
you are not eligible for a dismissal: Vehicle Code
Section 42001(b) which includes sections 2800, 2801
and 2803; Penal Code Section 261(d), 286(c), 288,
288a(c), 288.5 and 289(j).
If you were referred to a "diversion" program,
you record will already be changed in one of two ways.
If you successfully completed all of the diversion
program requirements, your record should already be
changed to show a dismissal. If you didn't complete
your requirements or were not actually given diversion,
then the conviction will be on your record.
If you were convicted of possession of marijuana
for personal use then you do not necessarily need
to get a dismissal for the offense. Under California
Health and Safety Code Sections 11361.5 and 11361.7
all possession of marijuana for personal use convictions,
after January 1, 1976, are erased from your record
after two years. BE CAREFUL! The conviction cannot
be for cultivation, sales or transportation. If it
is, it will be on your record.
Your Juvenile records do appear on your criminal
record. Upon your 18th birthday, you are eligible
to petition to have your juvenile records sealed.
Once sealed, no one can gain access to them and they
will be completely destroyed five years from the date
Juvenile records are not automatically sealed upon
your 18th birthday. You must affirmatively petition
the juvenile court to have them sealed. You can do
this by filing out a form and filing it with the juvenile
court in the county in which you were convicted. Contact
the juvenile court in the county you were convicted,
and ask them to send you a copy of the form used in
that county. Check to see if they have any special
filing requirements such as additional photocopies
or the need to serve copies of the petition on any
government agencies, and get the correct information
for filing by mail. Usually, there is no fee.
If you graduated from the California Youth Authority,
your juvenile conviction(s) will have been dismissed
as part of your graduation. If you do not petition
to have your juvenile records sealed and destroyed,
they will remain on your record until your 38th birthday,
then they will be destroyed.
Complete and File the Petition(s) and Fee
Waiver(s). If you are filing a petition for
reducing a felony or a petition for early release
from probation or for a dismissal, you will need to
call the Clerk of the Superior
Court for the county in which you were convicted,
and ask them for the following information:
- Have them send you as many copies of their form
(if they have one) as you have convictions in
- Ask if you need to submit additional photocopies
of the petition, and how many?
- Ask if their rules of court require you to serve
copies of your petition on the district attorney
and/or probation department?
- Ask what the correct mailing address is for
filing by mail?
Remember, you can only dismiss one conviction at
a time. This means you will fill out a separate petition
for each conviction that you want to dismiss, but
you can file them all at the same time. If you are
currently on probation, you will need to deal with
that conviction first, then you can proceed with the
others. Usually there is a fee to file a petition
for dismissal with the court. However, fee waivers
are available to people who cannot afford to pay.
here for court fee and waiver information.
File Your Petition(s) and Fee Waiver(s) With
the Court(s) If you are filing a petition
for reducing a felony or a petition for early release
from probation or a dismissal, you will need to mail
(or deliver in person) your filing materials to the
Clerk of the Superior Court for the county of your
Be sure to include any supportive materials such
as letters of support, school diplomas and/or transcripts,
and if applying for early release from probation,
include a letter to the judge explaining why you feel
you should be released from probation early. At the
time you file your papers, the clerk will set a hearing
If required in your county, be sure to serve the
district attorney and/or probation department.
You will be required to attend the hearing, although
for 1203.4 and 1203.4a petitions you may not have
to appear. If you are required to attend the hearing
BE SURE TO ATTEND. Be on time, and dress for conservatively
If you petition is granted, make sure to put the order
in a safe place for your records.
If Your Petition(s) is Denied. You
may still be able to get your conviction(s) dismissed.
After you receive the order from the judge denying
your dismissal, you can either go to, or call, the
Clerk at the courthouse to see if you can find out
why the petition was denied and whether you can fix
the problem and re-file.
Certificate of Rehabilitation. If
you were sentenced to state prison or sentenced under
the authority of the California Department of Corrections
you are not eligible for a dismissal under Penal Code
Section 1203.4 or 1203.4a. You may, however, be eligible
for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. For eligibility
and application requirements contact the Board of
Prison Terms, 428 J Street, 6th Floor, Sacramento,
CA 95814. This is a lengthy process that may necessitate
the assistance of a private attorney.
A Dismissal Mean?:
Once all of your convictions have been dismissed:
- On questions by Private Employers if you are asked
if you have every been convicted of a crime, you
must respond with "YES-CONVICTION DISMISSED."
- On questions by Government Employers or Government
Licensing Applications if you are asked if you have
ever been convicted of a crime, you MUST respond
with "YES-CONVICTION DISMISSED." In California,
government employers and licensing agencies (except
for police agencies and concessionaire licensing
boards), will treat you the same as if you had never
been convicted of any crime.
- You will not be allowed to own or possess a firearm
until you would otherwise be able to do so.
- Your dismissed conviction(s) can still be used
to increase your punishment in future criminal cases.
- Your prior conviction(s) can still affect your
- If you have been required to register as a sex
offender as a result of a conviction, you have to
make a different motion to the court in order to
be relieved of this requirement. A dismissal will
not relieve you of your duty to register as a sex