Santa Rosa & Northern CA Expungement Attorney
Can you get your conviction dismissed?
An expungement is a dismissal of a criminal conviction authorized by Penal
Code §1203.4. It does not seal your criminal record but dismisses
your conviction. The conviction that is expunged or dismissed remains
on your criminal record for most purposes, but the Order of Dismissal
from the Superior Court is also prominently displayed. Once your conviction
is expunged or dismissed, you are released from all penalties and disabilities
resulting from the offense but, as expected, there are some limitations
to this release.
Are you eligible for an expungement or dismissal of your conviction?
If you were granted probation and have completed all of the requirements—as
well as the length of probation—you are eligible for a dismissal.
You cannot currently be on probation for any case, or serving a sentence
for any other case, in California or any other state. If, as a result
of your criminal case, you were denied probation, you may still obtain
a dismissal. Again, you cannot be on probation or serving a sentence and
you must wait for at least one year to pass after your conviction occurred
to apply for the expungement.
It is important to apply for an expungement at the earliest possible moment,
which would generally be as soon as you complete probation or immediately
upon the expiration of one year from your conviction if no probation was
imposed. Misdemeanor cases older than 5 years can be destroyed by any
particular court at any particular time. Some courts have policies to
destroy records after 5 years, 10 years, etc. We may need to get a copy
of your criminal history record from the Department of Justice but your
expungement can still occur.
4 Things an Expungement Will Do for You
There are a number of advantages to be gained by acquiring an expungement:
- It adds an addition to your criminal record indicating that your case has
been dismissed. The dismissal is the result of an order of the court that
your lawyer will acquire from the same court in which the conviction occurred.
As part of this process, you will be withdrawing your previously entered
plea of 'guilty' and entering a new and different plea of 'not
guilty'; the court will dismiss your conviction and set it aside.
- The expungement or dismissal of your conviction will prevent the conviction
from being used against you for impeachment if you testify in someone
else's case. The conviction can, however, still be used against you
if you are accused of another crime.
- The acquisition of a dismissal or expungement will allow you to answer
'no' to questions on most job applications regarding whether or
not you have been convicted. There are certain exceptions to this. If
you are applying for a government job or a job that requires a government
license, certificate, permit, or security clearance, the conviction will
probably be discovered and you should note on any government job application
that the conviction occurred and was followed by an expungement or dismissal.
An employer cannot legally ask you when you apply for a job for information
for about an arrest that did not end in a conviction. An employer may
not also ask you about any involvement in a diversion program. An employer
is not supposed to consider any record of arrest that did not end in a
conviction. Theoretically, if the employer discovers this information,
they are not supposed to consider that information when hiring, promoting
or firing a person.
- If your conviction was for a felony, the expungement or dismissal is the
first step in obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation and/or a Governor's Pardon.
7 Things an Expungement Will NOT Do for You
- An expungement or dismissal will not remove the conviction from your criminal
record. Both FBI criminal history records and California Department of
Justice records will show both your conviction and your expungement pursuant
to Penal Code §1203.4.
- Your expungement will not seal or remove your criminal conviction from
public inspection. Those who are sophisticated in this area will be able
to find your old court case. However, the dismissal of the conviction
will be apparent in your criminal record.
- Obtaining an expungement will not prevent your dismissed or expunged conviction
from being used as a 'prior conviction' to increase punishment
if you incur a subsequent conviction; it will not preclude the older conviction
from being used for impeachment purposes in a new criminal case.
- Generally, obtaining an expungement will not preclude your prior conviction
from being considered by governmental agencies to refuse or revoke a government
license or permit. However, your expungement is often viewed favorably
when reviewed by a licensing agency.
- Your expungement will not remove the requirement to register as a sex offender
pursuant to Penal Code §290 if you have been convicted of certain
sex offenses. If an expungement is granted and you are required to register,
you may then file paperwork requesting a Certificate of Rehabilitation
when you become eligible. This Certificate of Rehabilitation will release
certain sex offenders from further registration under certain circumstances.
- Your expungement will not reinstate your right to possess firearms if a
preclusion of possessing firearms resulted from the conviction. It may,
however, pave the way to reinstating the right to possess firearms if
a felony conviction is reduced to a misdemeanor and the original offense
was not one of violence.
- Regarding immigration, acquisition of an expungement will not necessarily
prevent your conviction from being used by the INS for removal or exclusion
purposes. This is an area of law that is constantly changing. The Board
of Immigration Appeals has held in the past that an expungement is not
effective for eliminating the conviction for immigration purposes. However,
the Ninth Circuit has reversed the Board of Immigration Appeals' decision
and held that "persons whose offenses would qualify for treatment
under the First Offender Act" and who acquire an expungement under
state law may not be removed for those offenses. This would generally
apply to immigrants with convictions for simple possession of a controlled
Call for a Free Consultation with Our Sonoma County Law Firm
If you need an expungement or dismissal of your criminal conviction, one
of the best decisions you can make is to speak to an expungement lawyer
or expungement attorney. Ronald Dinan & Associates serves people throughout
the counties of Sonoma, Napa, Marin, Lake, Mendocino, and Humboldt. Our
six Bay Area offices are centrally located in the cities in which the
courthouses are located, and we look forward to helping you.
To get started with your case, contact us as soon as possible! We offer