Clean Your Record

The information provided here deals with adult convictions in California and is about record cleaning options that might help you reduce the impact of your California state criminal record. Sometimes people talk about this as “expungement,” but there is no true expungement in California.

California Labor Code section 432.7 says that an employer cannot ask someone applying for a job for information about an arrest or detention that did not end in a conviction. Also, an employer cannot ask about a referral to or participation in any diversion program. An employer is also not supposed to look for any record of arrest (from any source) that did not end in a conviction. If this information comes to the employer’s attention anyway, the employer cannot use that record as a factor in hiring, promoting, or terminating that person. But this same code section says that the employer may ask an employee or someone applying for a job about an arrest for which he or she is out on bail or released on his or her own recognizance pending trial. A conviction, for purposes of this code section, includes pleas, verdicts, or findings of guilt. An employer also cannot ask someone applying for a job for information about a juvenile court case, even if a judge made a final decision against you in that case. If information about a juvenile case comes to the employer’s attention, the employer cannot use that record as a factor in hiring, training, promoting, or terminating that person.

Find out the details of your convictions

In order to begin cleaning up your criminal record, you first need to know what is on your criminal record.

If you have more than 1 conviction, you need this information for EVERY conviction:

  1. What is your case number — sometimes called “docket number”?
  2. What was your date of conviction?
  3. What is the code name and section number you were convicted of violating? ? For example, Penal Code section 484; Health and Safety Code section 11377; Vehicle Code section 14601(a).
  4. Was there a verdict or did you enter a plea? If you entered a plea, was it “guilty” or “no contest” (also called “nolo contendere”)?

Depending on what you may want to ask the court to do, you may also need the following information:

  1. Were you ordered to serve any time on probation (either formal or informal probation,)? If so, for how long?
  2. Were you ordered to make any payments, such as restitution, as a part of your probation?
  3. Did you comply with all of the terms and conditions of probation?
  4. If you were sentenced to state prison, which one?
  5. If you were sentenced to state prison, on what date were you released?
  6. If you were released on parole, on what date did your parole end?

Get a copy of the information on your criminal record

The information on your criminal record information can be obtained from a variety of sources, like:

  1. California State Dept. of Justice, Criminal Record Review Unit. They will have your criminal record information for the entire state of California. Make sure you follow the directions for requesting your criminal record carefully. There is a $25 fee, but you may qualify for a fee waiver. You must sign your request for a fee waiver under penalty of perjury, and you must provide proof of your income. It may take several weeks for your record to arrive in the mail.
  2. The court papers you received at the time you were convicted.
  3. The superior court where you were convicted. Keep in mind that they will only have information for convictions from that county and not other counties.
  4. Your lawyer, parole officer, or probation officer.

Figuring out your options

Sealing records

You may request a court to seal your arrest and criminal records. If a judge determines that you have met the requirements, the records will be sealed and not available to the public. There are certain limitations, depending on what type of remedy or end result you are asking for.

Your situation Remedy How to do it
You were arrested and  no formal court case has been filed accusing you of a crime. Request arrest records in the case to be sealed and destroyed. File a petition under Pen. Code, § 851.8 to destroy arrest records with the law enforcement agency. If law enforcement does not respond within 60 days, your request is deemed denied. If that happens, file a petition with the court. If the court finds you were factually innocent of the charges for which the arrest was made, the court will order your records sealed and destroyed.
You were arrested and a case against you was filed but dismissed. Request arrest records in the case to be sealed and destroyed. File a petition under Pen. Code, § 851.8 with the court. If the court finds you were factually innocent of the charges for which the arrest was made, the court will order your records sealed and destroyed.
You were acquitted at trial. Request records in the case to be sealed, including any record of your arrest or detention. File a written or oral motion, with notice to all parties, under Pen. Code, § 851.85. If the court finds you were factually innocent of the charges, the court will order your records sealed.
Your conviction was set aside based upon a determination that you are factually innocent. Request records in the case to be sealed, including any record of your arrest or detention. File a written or oral motion, with notice to all parties, under Pen. Code, § 851.86.
You successfully complete a pre-filing diversion program. Request records in the case to be sealed, including any record of your arrest or detention. Two years after successful completion of the diversion program, file a petition under Pen. Code, § 851.87 with the court.
You successfully complete a drug diversion program under Pen. Code §§ 1000, 1000.5, or 1000.8. Request records in the case to be sealed, including any record of your arrest or detention. File a petition under Pen. Code, § 851.90 with the court.
You were under 18 at the time you committed a misdemeanor, and are eligible or have previously received relief under Penal Code §§ 1203.4 or 1203.4a. Request records in the case to be sealed, including any record of your arrest or detention. File a petition under Pen. Code, § 1203.45 with the court.
Your petition under Welfare and Institutions Code § 781 is granted for violations of Pen. Code §§ 647(b) and/or 653.22. Request all records in the case to be sealed, including any record of your arrest or detention. File a petition under Pen. Code, § 1203.47 with the court.
You are in the Department of Justice’s DNA and Forensic Identification Database but have no qualifying offense or pending charge justifying you being included in the database. Request that the California Department of Justice destroy your DNA sample and/or specimen and expunge (delete) your DNA database profile. File a petition under Pen. Code, § 299 for expungement.

Petition: Form CR-185

Order: Form CR-186

Dismissals – misdemeanors

Your situation Remedy How to do it
You were convicted of a misdemeanor and are still on probation. Request early release from probation and file a petition to have the conviction dismissed. File a petition under Penal Code section 1203.3 to have probation terminated early, and a petition under Pen. Code, § 1203.4 for dismissal.

Petition: Form CR-180

Order: Form CR-181

You were convicted of a misdemeanor and have completed probation. Request a dismissal of the conviction. File a petition under Pen. Code, § 1203.4 for dismissal.

Petition: Form CR-180

Order: Form CR-181

You were convicted of a misdemeanor or infraction and were never given  probation. Request a dismissal of the conviction. File a petition under Pen. Code, § 1203.4a for dismissal.

Petition: Form CR-180

Order: Form CR-181

Dismissals – felonies

As referred to below, “wobblers” are offenses that can either be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. You can tell whether a felony is a “wobbler” by going to the code section and looking at the possible sentence options. If the sentence for the offense is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison or in a county jail, the offense is a wobbler. Similarly, if the sentence for the offense is punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or in a county jail, the offense is a wobbler.

You were convicted of a felony wobbler and are still on probation. Request early release from probation and file a petition to have the conviction reduced to a misdemeanor and dismissed. File a petition under Pen. Code, § 1203.3 to have probation terminated early. File a petition under Pen. Code, § 17(b) to get a felony reduced, and a petition under Pen. Code, § 1203.4 for dismissal.

Petition: Form CR-180

Order: Form CR-181

You were convicted of a felony wobbler and are done with probation and/or county jail time. File a petition to have the conviction reduced and dismissed. File a petition under Pen. Code, § 17(b) to get a felony reduced, and a petition under  Pen. Code, § 1203.4 for dismissal.

Petition: Form CR-180

Order: Form CR-181

You were convicted of a felony and sentenced to county jail under Pen. Code, § 1170(h)(5). File a petition to have the conviction dismissed. File a petition under Pen. Code, § 1203.41 for dismissal.

Petition: Form CR-180

Order: Form CR-181

You were convicted of a felony and were sentenced to state prison or put under the authority of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. File a petition for a certificate of rehabilitation and pardon.

from California Courts

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