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What does it mean if my case is dismissed?

Irvine, CA |
Filed under: Criminal charges

I was caught shoplifting at walmart on April 2013 and then the cops came and gave me a ticket (which has no fees) that states that i committed petty theft and also a court date. When I went to court in May, the judge said that if we plead guilty, all we have to do is get our DNA on record and take DEJ classes by July 2013. I was due back to court on July and I had to fulfill everything. When I went back to court I did everything I had to do, get my DNA sampled and I also took the class when I got to court, they said that my case is dismissed. What does dismiss mean? Is it still in my record even though I was not arrested? What do I say if I apply to jobs that asks about criminal records? Will it still show up if someone does a criminal background check on me?

Also, I'm a green card holder, will this affect me if I apply for citizenship? Is there anyway I can get off my record? this is in California.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. A little confusing. If you did not plead guilty, or were found guilty, a dismissal means the charges are dismissed. That is a very good thing. In NJ, I still move to expunge a record of a dismissal, so that it does not appear on the client's record. An attorney in your state can let you know the laws there on this issue.

    If this answer helped you, please be so kind as to mark it "helpful" or "best answer". This would be greatly appreciated! Please remember that attorney answers to questions on this forum are for general purposes only and do not establish an attorney-client relationship. And with any legal issue, a full and exhaustive knowledge of the case is imperative to give you the best advice. So it is always advised that you consult with an attorney.


  2. If you already have an attorney, ask him this question. if you don't, hire one to investigate what's going on in this case.

    The response above is not intended as legal advice. This response does not create an attorney-client relationship. Legal questions can only be fully answered through consultation with an attorney to whom you give full and accurate details. Anything you post here is not confidential and is not protected by the attorney-client relationship. It is highly recommended that you seek advice from a criminal defense attorney licensed in your jurisdiction by setting up a confidential meeting.


  3. You can tell employers that you have not been convicted of a crime, but the case may show up on the court's records, with the notation that charges were dismissed after successful completion of DEJ.

    There is no way to get the matter removed from your criminal record. It will always appear on your criminal history, or "rap sheet." The only way to get an entry removed from your rap sheet is to get a finding that you were factually innocent, and you are not eligible because you entered a guilty plea.

    You added a comment that you are a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR, or green card holder), which raises some concerns. Theft is a crime of moral turpitude, which can lead to removal (deportation), denial of citizenship and permanent exclusion from the United States.

    Until a couple of years ago, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recognized DEJ dismissals in cases where you entered a plea, but the case was dismissed. Since your case was dismissed prior to July 14, 2011, you should be safe, but you could encounter problems if you leave the country and try to reenter through a port of entry that is not in the Ninth Circuit, which includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

    You may be able to avoid immigration consequences through the petty offense exception, which will excuse one minor offense. You might also be able to set aside the plea (even though it was dismissed) if you were not advised of immigration consequences.

    I would recommend a consultation with a criminal defense attorney who has also taken the time to study immigration law. While the US Supreme Court says criminal defense attorneys have an obligation to advise clients about the immigration consequences of a plea, many lawyers do not make the effort to obtain the necessary education.

    PLEASE READ BEFORE CONTACTING MY OFFICE: My office is located in Chico, Butte County, California. I offer free consultations to potential clients whose cases are in counties within a 100 mile radius of my office. In order to represent someone who lives outside that area, I would have to charge enough to pay for several hours of travel time to each court appearance. If you're outside that area, it will be more cost-efficient to hire an attorney who practices in your community. I do not accept telephone calls regarding my posts on Avvo. If you need more information, please use the "comments" button or post another question. This is a general discussion of legal principles by a California lawyer and does not create an attorney/client relationship. It's impossible to give detailed, accurate advice based on a few sentences on a website (and you shouldn't provide too much specific information about your legal matter on a public forum like this site, anyway). You should always seek advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction who can give you an informed opinion after reviewing all of the relevant information.

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