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)
Find out the details of your convictions
The following information is needed in order to process a dismissal or certificate of rehabilitation and pardon:
Note: if you are seeking relief for multiple convictions, this information is needed for each conviction.
This information is often most easily obtained from:
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 are eligible for a dismissal and the court has the discretion (choice) to grant you that dismissal if:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.