In California, expungement of a criminal record is the legal process by which a conviction is set aside, removed, or dismissed under the following conditions:

  • The defendant has fulfilled all the conditions of probation for the entire probationary period or if probation is not granted then one year must have passed since the pronouncement of judgment.
  • The defendant is not serving a sentence for, and is not charged with, any other offense.
  • The defendant (since pronouncement of judgment) has led an honest and upright life and obeyed all law.

An expungement relieves the defendant of certain penalties and disabilities that result from a criminal conviction. The arrest, prosecution, and conviction records remain in the file and a notation is placed in the file that the conviction has been dismissed. The notation in the court file, the California Department of Justice and the FBI files reflect that a plea of “not guilty” has been entered and the case ordered dismissed by the court in the interests of justice. An expungement does not seal or destroy a defendant’s criminal record, as is commonly believed.

Most misdemeanors and some felony convictions can be expunged, especially if it is the defendant’s first offense. Felony convictions where a state prison commitment was imposed are not eligible for expungement. A person with a felony conviction must take a different route, which includes a Governor’s Pardon or a Certificate of Rehabilitation. Some states refer to their expungement process as expunction of record or erasure of record.

If you are seeking to dismiss, set aside, or remove your California conviction from your criminal record, contact an experienced expungement attorney to assist you with that process.

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