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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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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 substance.

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 free consults.