Written by attorney Tracy Green

How to Clean Up Your Conviction - Expunging Calfornia State Criminal Convictions - Part II

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1. Determine if You are Eligible to Expunge Your Conviction

o Your conviction must meet the guidelines described in Penal Code § 1203.4 (,_ _ Penal Code § 1203.4a_ ( Penal Code § 17 ( These code sections provide very specific guidelines about qualifying charges and sentences. Be sure to read those code sections carefully, because there are many exceptions.

o At least one year must have passed since your misdemeanor conviction IF you were not ordered probation. If granted felony or misdemeanor probation - you must have completed your probation and fulfilled all terms.

o You must have completed the terms of your sentence. In most situations, the court will not grant an expungement until your sentence is complete. This means you have completed your period of incarceration and/or probation, and paid all fines, fees, and restitution in full. You must also appear at all DMV hearings, and pay all DMV fines and fees. If you wish to make a payment, or set up a payment plan, contact the Department of Revenue and Recovery (DRR).

o If you are still on probation for this (or any other) conviction, you may ask the court to terminate your probation early. That is a separate procedure. You will need to complete this early termination process before you can go further.

o You cannot be serving a sentence for any offense, or be charged with the commission of any other offense. If you are still on probation for another offense, you will need to complete the terms of that sentence, or have that probation terminated prior to petitioning for an expungement.

o You must not have any current charges or be on probation for any other matter.

o Your probation for the conviction you're trying to expunge must not have been revoked, and not reinstated. Or if it was revoked or reinstated, you have not fulfilled all terms of that revocation and probation is terminated.

Step 2. Determine which Type of Expungement Applies to Your Situation

As mentioned above, there are three types of expungement available. The type you use depends on the original conviction and sentence. The information below will help you determine which type of expungement is right for you.

a) Misdemeanor Convictions

o Probation ordered and completed File a Petition for Dismissal under Penal Code § 1203.4.

o Probation ordered, but not yet completed File a Motion to Terminate Probation Early in the superior court where your probation is pending. If that is granted, file a Petition for Dismissal under Penal Code § 1203.4.

o Probation not ordered File a Petition for Dismissal under Penal Code § 1203.4a.

b) Felony Convictions

o County Jail and/or Probation ordered and completed File a Petition under Penal Code § 17(b)(3) to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor, and Petition for Dismissal under Penal Code § 1203.4 to expunge the misdemeanor.

o Probation ordered, but not yet completed File a Motion to Terminate Probation in the superior court where your probation is pending. If that is granted, file a Petition under Penal Code § 17(b) to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor, and Petition for Dismissal under Penal Code § 1203.4 to expunge the misdemeanor.

o State Prison was ordered If you were sentenced to State Prison, you are no t eligible for the procedures described in the guide. Instead, you will need to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation and/or a Pardon. More information is available from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation at\_for\_pardon.pdf (

Step 3. Obtain a Copy of Your Criminal Record

You will need a copy of your criminal record or case information for each conviction you wish to expunge. Your criminal record or case history includes information essential to filling out the expungement papers.

To get case information for your convictions, go the website for the superior court in which you were convicted and search through the case index if you do not have the records. In some cases, you may need to set up an account.

For a copy of your state-wide criminal record, visit a Live Scan fingerprinting site. After providing your fingerprints and paying the required fee, a copy of your criminal record will be mailed to you. To find a Live Scan site near you, see ( More information about requesting your statewide criminal history is available at ( The fee may be waived if you are low income. Call the Attorney General's Records Review unit at (916) 227-3835 for more information.

Step 4. Complete the Required Forms

There are two forms you will need to expunge your conviction. The same forms are used for all three types of expungement. Click here ( for instructions for completing these forms.

o Petition for Dismissal (CR-180) (

o Order for Dismissal (CR-181) (

It is often a good idea to attach a declaration stating why you want the expungement and explaining your situation in life. In this declaration, you may want to discuss:

o Your plans for the future;

o The reasons you offended, and how your life is different today than it was when you offended;

o How the conviction has hurt your employment chances;

o If you have received any training or education since your conviction;

o Any occurrence in your life that changed how you interact with your community; and

o Any 12-step or religious affiliations you have.

All declarations submitted to the court must contain the words "I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the state of California that the foregoing is true and correct." Declarations should be no more than one page long, and may be typed or handwritten. You may use Form MC-030 (, "Declaration," if you wish.

Letters from employers, clergy, or other community members can be convincing, but should not be attached to your petition. You may provide these to the judge at your hearing.

If you have changed your name since your conviction, fill out the forms with the name under which you were convicted. Sign the forms with your current name.

You will need to complete a separate Petition and Order for each conviction you wish to expunge.

Step 5. Copy and Assemble your Documents

Make five copies each of:

o Petition for Dismissal (CR-180)

o Order for Dismissal (CR-181)

o Declaration, if included.

Two-hole punch the original and all copies of your documents.


o Proof that all fines, fees and restitution are paid in full

o Processing fee or Fee Waiver forms (see Step 6)

o Self-addressed stamped envelope if you want a copy of the signed Order mailed to you.

Step 6. File Your Forms Expungement forms are filed in the county where you were convicted. For courthouse locations, see ( Each county may have different rules, so check with you local county court to determine the correct location to file.

There is a fee for processing your Petition. Penal Code § 1203.4 sets the maximum fee for probation cases where probation was ordered at $150. Penal Code § 1203.4a sets the maximum fee for convictions without probation at $60. Fee waivers are available for low-income petitioners.

Step 7. Serve Your Forms Service is a formal way of giving copies of court documents to all parties in a case. In an expungement proceeding, the District Attorney and Probation Department must be served.

In some counties, the court will serve your papers for you. Contact the criminal court clerk to determine the service requirements and procedures in that county. Many will serve the documents for you. If not, when you file your documents with the court, the clerk will give you stamped copies of your papers. These must be served on the District Attorney and the Probation Department in that county. The person performing service will then complete a Proof of Service form, and turn it in to the court. If you do not complete this step, it will delay your expungement petition from being granted.

Step 8. Attend Your Court Hearing, if Required

For many people, no court hearing will be scheduled. Instead, the petition is automatically granted as long as you have met all the requirements. On your petition, the clerk will indicate the date by which the court will make a ruling. If a hearing is required for your case, the court will notify you of the hearing date.

Step 9. If Your Petition is Denied

If you attend the hearing, you may ask the judge what you can do to get your conviction expunged. You may re-file your petition for expungement in 3-6 months, after you've made the changes recommended by the judge.

Additional resources provided by the author

Sample motion to terminate probation:; Legal Aid Self-Help Manual:

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