California Expungement Law

Expungement of Criminal Records – General – California

1.  What is an expungement?

 The process of legally destroying, obliterating or striking out records or information in files, computers and other depositories relating to criminal charges.

 2.  Do the records just “disappear”?

 No. The records cannot be accessed for general law enforcement or civil use. However, under certain exceptional situations, the expunged records can be searched, retrieved, and used, but this is occurs only in exceptional circumstances and normally requires a court order or statutory authorization.

 3.  What records may be expunged?

 Normally, records in any court, correctional facility, law enforcement or criminal justice agency will be affected.  Specifically, records regarding a person’s detection, apprehension, arrest, detention, trial or the disposition of an offense within the criminal justice system are selected for expungement.  The effect of an expungement is that one’s criminal record of arrest and/or conviction is erased and legally deemed not to have occurred.

 4.  Who is eligible for an expungement?

 A person may have a criminal offense expunged when a defendant has fulfilled the conditions of probation for the entire period of probation, or has been discharged prior to the termination of the period of probation, or in any other case in which a court, in its discretion and the interests of justice, determines an expungement should be granted. CA Penal Code §1203.4. Also, a defendant convicted of a misdemeanor and not granted probation shall, at any time after the lapse of one year from the date of pronouncement of judgment, if he or she has fully complied with and performed the sentence of the court, is not then serving a sentence for any offense and is not under charge of commission of any crime and has, since the pronouncement of judgment, lived an honest and upright life and has conformed to and obeyed the laws of the land. CA Penal Code §1203.4a.

 A person who was under the age of 18 years at the time of commission of a misdemeanor and is eligible for, or has previously received, the relief provided by Section 1203.4 or 1203.4a, may petition the court for an order sealing the record of conviction and other official records in the case, including records of arrests resulting in the criminal proceeding and records relating to other offenses charged in the accusatory pleading, whether defendant was acquitted or charges were dismissed.

 5.  How do I get an “Expungement”?

 An eligible person may petition the court for an order sealing the record of conviction and other official records in the case, including records of arrests resulting in the criminal proceeding and records relating to other offenses charged in the accusatory pleading.

 A person who petitions for an order sealing a record under this section may be required to reimburse the county for the actual cost of services rendered, whether or not the petition is granted.  CA Penal Code §1203.4, et seq.

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Inside California Expungement Law