Here are some commonly asked questions:
What is an expungement?
A "dismissal" of criminal record if granted is the benefit. The conviction remains on your record for many purposes, including sex offender registration and immigration consequences. What the statute provides is, except as elsewhere stated, the defendant is 'released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense'. There are numerous limitations to this relief.
An expungement allows you to reopen your criminal case, set aside the conviction and dismiss the case. As a result, your criminal record will no longer show the conviction. However, the expungement will continue to appear on your record. It is important to note that the expungement does not clear from your record the fact that you were arrested or that charges were filed. It will still appear on your arrest record, charge record and DMV record, if applicable.
If your petition is granted under Penal Code 1203.4, your case is not sealed.
What are the effects of EXPUNGEMENT under PC1203.4/1203.4a?
An adult who is granted probation, completed all the terms of probation, and is no longer on probation, is eligible for relief under this statute. He or she must not be on probation, or serving a sentence, for any other offense, anywhere. (Penal Code § 1203.4)
If you were denied probation, you can still obtain an expungement. You still cannot be on probation or serving a sentence for any other case. Applicants must wait for one year after their conviction before applying for expungement (Penal Code§1203.4a)
If your criminal case was reduced to an infraction, you are now eligible for an expungement under Penal Code section 1203.4a.
1. Result in a new entry in the court record showing the dismissal of the case;
2. Allow you to answer on many, but not all, job applications that you have not been convicted. If, however, you are applying for a government job or a job which requires a government-issued license, certificate, or permit, or a job which involves a security clearance, the conviction will be discovered; in such cases, you should disclose the initial conviction and its later EXPUNGEMENT;
3. Prevent use of the conviction to impeach you if you testify as a witness, unless you are being tried for a subsequent offense.
4. If the conviction was for a felony, EXPUNGEMENT is the first step in obtaining a pardon.
It Will Not:
1. Remove the conviction from your "Rap Sheet" - California and FBI criminal history records will still show the conviction and the later dismissal "per PC 1203.4";
2. Reinstate the right to possess firearms, if it was taken away (reduction to a misdemeanor may accomplish this if the offense is not one of violence;)
3. Remove the requirement to register as a sex offender per PC290. If the EXPUNGEMENT is granted, registrants must then complete and file paperwork requesting a Certificate of Rehabilitation, when eligible. A Certificate of Rehabilitation will relieve specified sex offenders from further registration. This is true for both felony and misdemeanor convictions.
4. Allow you to omit the conviction from applications for government issued licenses;
5. Seal or otherwise remove the court case file from public inspection - anyone who knows where to look will be able to find the court case file (probation reports are in confidential files and are not subject to public inspection 90 days after sentencing;)
6. Prevent the conviction from being used as a "prior" or "strike prior" to increase punishment on a subsequent conviction;
7. Prevent the conviction from being used for impeachment purposes on a subsequent offense;
8. Prevent the conviction from being considered and used to refuse or revoke government licenses and permits such as real estate sales licenses, teaching credentials, bus drivers licenses, security guard certificates, etc.; however, the EXPUNGEMENT may reduce the weight given the conviction by the licensing agency.
9. Prevent the conviction from being used by INS for removal and exclusion purposes.
Do I have to disclose to employers?
Following a successful expungement, if a potential employer asks if you have ever been convicted you can honestly answer “no”. Keep in mind, though, that background checks typically go back 10 years, and employers can see that you had a conviction dismissed. Answering "No" may look dishonest. A better response may be "Yes, expungement granted."
What about government jobs?
If you are applying for a government job, a job that requires security clearance, or a job that requires a government-issued license, certificate or permit, the conviction will likely be discovered during the standard background check. You should disclose the conviction and expungement in these situations.
If you are applying for a government-issued license, certificate, or permit, you must disclose your conviction and expungement.
Can they still use it as a prior?
The conviction can still be used against you in future criminal proceedings and by the DMV for purposes of suspending or restricting your license. A successful expungement does not relieve you of any prohibition on the ownership or possession of firearms resulting from the conviction.
Following a successful expungement, you can legally answer "NO" on conviction question.