A California criminal record has the potential to haunt you for the rest of your life. Depending on the details of your record, you may find that it keeps you from finding a good job, finding a place to live or owning a firearm, among other possible restrictions. You may, too, feel that your record no longer reflects who you are as a person or the steps you have taken since your offense.
The good news is that San Diego County reports that some California criminal offenders may be able to have their records expunged after taking certain steps.
Determining eligibility for expungement
Certain serious crimes are not eligible for expungement, among them murder, rape and many crimes involving children. However, you may be eligible for expungement if you received a conviction for a misdemeanor or felony and then received probation. You may also be eligible if you have a misdemeanor, had probation denied or received a conviction for an infraction if your situation also meets other qualifying criteria. If you have a felony, you may still be eligible for an expungement if you served time in a local prison or received a sentence to state prison, but otherwise, qualify.
Understanding what expungement does
If you are successful in having your offense expunged, you may start answering “no” to questions on most job applications about whether you have criminal convictions. However, if you apply for a government job, you must be forthcoming about the offense, even if it underwent expungement. You may also now be able to qualify for federal student loans if you so desire. You may also be able to use the expungement as evidence of your attempts to rehabilitate yourself.
If you decide to move forward with pursuing a record expungement, you must complete a Petition for Dismissal form for each case and file it with the appropriate agency.