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How to Expunge a Criminal Record

Posted by attorney Piotr Reysner

Time has passed since your conviction of a crime and now you want your record cleared so that nobody can see your prior bad deeds. So how exactly do your clear your criminal record?

Do You Qualify to Have Your Record Cleared?

You are eligible for dismissal of a conviction, and the court will dismiss your conviction, if:

  1. You received probation for that conviction and
  2. You successfully completed probation or obtained early release and
  3. You also have paid all the fines, restitution, and reimbursements ordered by the court as part of your sentence and
  4. You are not currently serving another sentence or on probation for another offense and
  5. You are not currently charged with another offense.


  1. You never received probation and
  2. Your conviction was a misdemeanor and
  3. It has been at least one year since the date you were convicted and
  4. You have complied fully with the sentence of the court and
  5. You are not currently serving another sentence and 6. You are not currently charged with another offense and
  6. You have obeyed the law and lived an honest and upright life since the time of your conviction.

Get a Copy of The Court’s File

Call the Clerk of the Superior Court for the county in which you were convicted, and ask them for the following information:

  • Have them send you as many copies of their form (if they have one) as you have convictions in that county.
  • Ask if you need to submit additional photocopies of the petition, and how many.
  • Ask if their rules of court require you to serve copies of your petition on the district attorney and/or probation department.

Draft and File the Motion to Dismiss

Draft your motion to expunge and/or dismiss (for California).

File it with the court clerk in the county in which you were convicted. You must file a separate petition for each conviction you are seeking to clear. If local rules require you to serve a copy on the District Attorney, don't forget to do so and make sure you file a proof of service with the court.

Go to The Hearing

Once the petition has been filed, don't forget to show up for the scheduled hearing date.

Know How to Report The Expunged Record on Future Employment Applications

Once all of your convictions have been dismissed, under most circumstances, private employers cannot ask you about any convictions dismissed under Penal Code ?1203.4. So, when applying for a job in the private sector, you generally do not have to disclose a conviction if it was dismissed or expunged.

Applying for government employment or a government license: On questions by Government Employers or Government Licensing Applications if you are asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you MUST respond with "YES-CONVICTION DISMISSED." In California, government employers and licensing agencies (except for police agencies and concessionaire licensing boards), will treat you the same as if you had never been convicted of any crime.

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