Record Expungement and Forms

Cleaning Your Record

Important Notice: This guide is intended as an information tool to assist you with cleaning up your criminal record. We do not guarantee any results for a particular case, and the information in this guide is not intended as legal advice.

Expungement (Penal Code section 1203.4)

General Information

Find out the details of your convictions

The following information is needed in order to process a dismissal or certificate of rehabilitation and pardon:

  1. Case number
  2. Date of sentencing
  3. Code name and section number of any charge resulting in a conviction
  4. Whether the conviction occurred as the result of a verdict, guilty plea, or no contest plea
  5. Length of probation, if any
  6. Any court-ordered fines or restitution
  7. If sentenced to state prison:
    • Name of prison
    • Release date
    • Date of parole discharge

Note: if you are seeking relief for multiple convictions, this information is needed for each conviction.

This information is often most easily obtained from:

  1. Minute orders you received at the time of your case
  2. Contacting your attorney, parole officer, or probation officer
  3. Contacting the superior court in which you were convicted
  4. The California State Department of Justice, Criminal Record Review Unit.They can be reached at (916) 227-3400.There is a fee for their services, but you may qualify for a fee waiver.

Figure out if you are eligible for a dismissal

What is a dismissal?

If you were convicted of an infraction, a misdemeanor, or a felony and were not sentenced to state prison or put under the authority of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, you can petition for a dismissal. This means you were given county jail time, probation, a fine, or a combination of those three. The court, upon proper motion, may withdraw your guilty plea, no contest plea, or verdict of guilt, enter a not guilty plea, and dismiss the conviction. You will no longer be considered convicted of the offense, and your record will be changed to show a dismissal rather than a conviction.

When are you eligible for a dismissal?

You are eligible for dismissal of a conviction, and the court may dismiss your conviction, if:

  • You received probation for that conviction and:
    1. You successfully completed probation or obtained early release;
    2. You also have paid all the fines, restitution, and reimbursements ordered by the court as part of your sentence;
    3. You are not currently serving another sentence or on probation for another offense; AND
    4. You are not currently charged with another offense.
  • You never received probation and:
    1. Your conviction was a misdemeanor or an infraction;
    2. It has been at least 1 year since the date you were convicted;
    3. You have complied fully with the sentence of the court;
    4. You are not currently serving another sentence;
    5. You are not currently charged with another offense; AND
    6. You have obeyed the law and lived an honest and upright life since the time of your conviction

You are eligible for a dismissal and the court has the discretion (choice) to grant you that dismissal if:

  • You received probation, did not fulfill all the conditions of probation, or were convicted of any offense listed in Vehicle Code section 12810(a) to (e)  (DUIs, evading, vehicular manslaughter and others)  BUT:
    1. You have paid all the fines, restitution, and reimbursements ordered by the court as part of your sentence; AND
    2. You are not currently charged with, on probation for, or serving a sentence for any other offense.

It is up to the court to decide if your conviction should be dismissed, so make sure to give as much helpful information as possible to convince the court that granting you a dismissal is in the interests of justice.

Convictions not eligible for dismissal

If you were convicted of any of the following offenses, you are not eligible for a dismissal under Penal Code section 1203.4a:

  • Any misdemeanor within the provisions of Vehicle Code section 42002.1;
  • Any infraction within the provisions of Vehicle Code section 42001;
  • Any violation of Penal Code section 286(c), 288, 288.5, 288a(c), or 289(j); or
  • A felony under Penal Code section 261.5(d).

File your petition with the court

When filing any petition for dismissal or certificate of rehabilitation be sure to include any supportive materials such as letters of support, school diplomas or transcripts, a letter to the judge explaining why you feel you should be given the requested relief. At the time you file your papers, the clerk will set a hearing date.  Be sure to fill out the petition completely and attach any required supporting documentation.  Also, you must serve the district attorney or probation department a copy of your petition.

You will be required to attend the hearing.  Be on time and dress appropriately.

The court cannot charge you a fee to file your petition, but the court may order you to reimburse the court, city, and county up to $60 for each case after the court decides your petition, whether or not your petition was granted. But before you are ordered to pay, the court must decide if you are able to pay all or a part of the costs of your petition without undue hardship.

What a dismissal will do

Once all your convictions have been dismissed, this is what you can expect:  

  1. Applying for private employment: Under most circumstances, private employers cannot ask you about any convictions dismissed under Penal Code section 1203.4, so you would not need to disclose such dismissed convictions.  Some exceptions, a detailed in Penal Code section 1203.4, or California Code of Regulations section 11017(d), may apply. 
  1. Applying for government employment or a government license: For questions by government employers or on 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, unless the crime is job or license related.
  1. You will not be allowed to own or possess a firearm until you would otherwise be able to do so.
  1. Your dismissed convictions can still be used to increase your punishment in future criminal cases.
  1. Your prior convictions can still affect your driving privileges.
  1. If you have been required to register as a sex offender as a result of a conviction a dismissal will not relieve you of your duty to register as a sex offender. If applicable, your status as a registered sex offender will continue to be available to the public on the Internet under Megan’s Law.
  1. If your conviction prohibited you from holding public office, you still cannot hold public office after that conviction is dismissed.

If your petition is denied

You may still be able to get your convictions 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.

Other situations

Diversion

If you completed a “diversion” program, your record should already be changed to show a dismissal. If you did not complete your requirements or were not actually given diversion, then the conviction will be on your record.

Marijuana possession offenses

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 convictions for possession of marijuana for personal use, after January 1, 1976, are erased from your record after 2 years. This does not include convictions for cultivation, sales, or transportation, which remain on your record.  For these convictions, you must file a petition to have your conviction dismissed.

Juvenile records

Your juvenile records do appear on your criminal record. As of your 18th birthday, you are eligible to petition to have your juvenile records sealed. Once your records are sealed, no one can gain access to them and they will be completely destroyed 5 years from the date of sealing.

Juvenile records are not automatically sealed upon your 18th birthday. You must petition the juvenile court to have them sealed. You can do this by filling out a form and filing it with the juvenile court in the county where you were convicted. Contact the juvenile court in the county where 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 Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Justice, your juvenile convictions 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.

Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon

If you were sentenced to state prison or sentenced under the authority of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, you are not eligible for a dismissal under Penal Code section 1203.4 or 1203.4a. However, you may be eligible for a certificate of rehabilitation and pardon. For eligibility and application requirements, contact:

The Board of Parole Hearings
Post Office Box 4036
Sacramento, CA 95812-4036

If you are eligible, you may file a petition with the superior court where you reside.