There is a lot of confusion about cleaning up your criminal record. If you were ever convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony and did not receive a California State Prison sentence you can request a dismissal under 1203.4 of the California Penal Code.
This means that you received as a term of your sentence County Jail time, probation, fines, fees, or any combination of the above. If you request that the court dismiss your charges, the Court can withdraw your no contest or guilty plea, or guilty verdict from trial, and enter a not guilty plea on your behalf. After that, the Court will dismiss your conviction. Upon dismissal of the charges, you are considered not to have been convicted of the charges. The word “conviction” will be changed to “dismissed”, thereby cleaning up your record.
In order to get a dismissal, you must first determine if you are eligible for a dismissal. You are eligible for a dismissal if you were granted, and successfully completed probation. If your sentence did not include any probationary period, you must wait at least one year from the date of conviction to apply for a dismissal under PC1203.4. Additionally, you must have paid all fines, fees, restitution ordered by the court as part of your plea bargain or after guilty verdict at trial. Also, you must not be on probation or have any pending criminal matters.
In some instances, depending upon what charged you were convicted, you are statutorily ineligible for dismissal. You should consult a California expungement attorney to determine what charges would prevent you from being eligible for a dismissal.
After you obtain a dismissal, there are still certain restrictions that will affect you. If you apply for a government job or apply for certain licenses, you must still disclose that you were convicted of a crime but can include the language that the conviction was dismissed. Your rights to carry a firearm may still be limited in certain situations. The prior conviction, even after is has been dismissed, can still be used to enhance punishment for future crimes.
Another very important restriction is that if you are required to register as a sex offender, the dismissal will NOT relieve you from having to register. It is always best to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your unique situation and determine what a dismissal can do for you.