California is not a state where you can wipe your record completely clean after a criminal conviction. However, there are situations where you can clean up your record and minimize its impact on your life.
Knowing the laws related to expungement in the state can help you understand what is required and if it is something worth looking into.
Who may be eligible for expungement
Adults who complete the terms of their criminal conviction and probation may be eligible for relief under Penal Code 1203.4. It is possible to apply for this relief one year after the completion of your probation or sentence – although not every conviction is eligible for this process.
Benefits of seeking expungement
You may wonder if seeking expungement is worth the time and effort. While there are some limitations, there are also several benefits that may make it worthwhile.
Potential benefits of a successful expungement include:
- Allows you to answer that you were never convicted of a crime (there are exceptions involving certain occupations, including government jobs) when asked by employers or landlords
- It will show a new entry on your record indicating that the case was dismissed
- It can be the first step in the application for a pardon
In general, this means that you will face less discrimination in your life due to your past criminal history.
How to apply for expungement
If you seek expungement, you must file the “Petition for Relief” with the Superior Court. There is a filing fee that depends on the type of conviction you are applying for. At this point, the court will review the information and issue a decision within eight to 10 weeks.
It can be challenging to minimize the consequences of a criminal record in California. However, you have options. Knowing your legal rights will help you with this.