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California Expungement FAQ

California criminal expungement is a process that petitions the Court to review a conviction and allows a defendant to withdraw their plea or finding of guilt; a new "Not Guilty" plea is entered by the Court, and the case is ordered dismissed, and the conviction set aside. You may honestly answer "NO" to a question regarding a criminal conviction.

California Expungement Law Gets Better

  • Labor Code § 432.7 now includes cases that have been "judicially dismissed", that is, expunged. This means that individuals who have been granted a California expungement under California Penal Code section 1203.4 cannot be discriminated against for employment, hiring, promotion, or termination based upon that expunged case. Additionally, the law prohibits employers from seeking information regarding that expunged conviction, and provides for money damages if they do. Certain exemptions to this law do exist, but they are primarily focused upon individuals seeking employment in law enforcement or other areas where law prohibits the employment of an individual convicted of certain offenses.

Does this help in International Travel, Particularly to Canada?

  • Yes. This helps in International Travel situations; particularly in being allowed entry to Canada after an expungement. Canadian courts have held that officers should give full effect to mitigation which was granted by the jurisdiction of the offense in question. See, Saini v. Minister of Citizenship & Immigration 184 D.L.R. (4th) 568.  You should consult with your immigration attorney for specific on how it applies to your case.

Do I need an Attorney to Expunge my case?

  • Probably so. We hear every week from individuals who have tried to expunge cases on their own and have had the expungement denied.  Many people do not know how to persuade a judge, overcome a district attorney's objections or avoid common mistakes that can result in a case being denied.  Some judges and prosecutors do not understand the expungement law very well, and often need to be educated as to the state of the law regarding expungement. Prosecutors sometimes make objections that have little or no legal merit, and an individual representing themselves is at a real disadvantage in such a circumstance. People v. Butler (1980) 105 Cal. App.3d 585, as an example, makes it clear that there is no requirement to show "rehabilitation" in order for an expungement to be granted.

Will I need to go to Court?

  • No. We can almost always handle all Court appearances for you. That is covered in our fee.

How do I find out if I'm eligible for an Expungement?

  • Call us! No on-line quizzes, just personal attention. Unless you were sent to State Prison, or were convicted of a serious sexual offense you are probably eligible for an expungement. Even if you had a probation violation, it is often still possible to expunge your case, see People v. McLernon, 174 Cal. App. 4th 569 (2009). All your fines and fees must be paid in full, however.

What about applying for jobs?

  • If Employers ask if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you can respond with "NO". 
  • On questions from Government Licensing Applications if you are asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you should disclose the expunged case, but can tell them it has been dismissed and set aside.

Does this erase all records and destroy the Court file?

  • No. An expungement changes and updates the disposition of the case to reflect a dismissal under 1203.4 of the Penal Code. This means the Court file, the California Department of Justice, and the FBI update their files to show a new plea of not guilty has been entered and the case has been ordered dismissed and set aside by the Court. It does not remove all records of the case, nor does it make the conviction 'invisible'.

How long does a California Expungement take?

  • Generally speaking, you can count on your expungement taking in the neighborhood of 90 to 120 days, but certain courts or older cases  can take longer.

    Several factors impact the length of time an expungement takes to go through the court system. Some of these factors are: the length of time between the conviction and the filing of the expungement; whether or not the case is in the current computer system at the courthouse where the expungement needs to be filed; whether or not the case is a felony or misdemeanor; how complex the case is; whether or not the case file is in storage off-site from the courthouse where the expungement needs to be processed; and if the Court wants a Probation Report prepared prior to the Court hearing.

    Some courthouses tend to be very efficient in processing expungements and “turn around” petitions in 6 to 8 weeks; Van Nuys Court in LA County and the Newport Beach Court in Orange County tend to be pretty quick in processing expungements that are less than 10 years old.

    When you call us for telephone consultation we will be able to give you a better idea of a more precise time that your expungement petition will probably take. That being said, expungement petitions are not a priority for the court system, and there is no time limit associated with expungement petitions, so sometimes delays of weeks or months occur.

Can a California DUI Conviction be Expunged?

  • Absolutely yes. DUI convictions are one of the most common criminal offenses in California. Violation of 23152 or 23153 of the California Vehicle Code can result in conviction, fine, alcohol school and custody time. Such a conviction can have long lasting repercussions in employment, and adversely impact quality of life. A DUI expungement helps mitigate this mistake.

    The legal standard for California DUI Expungement cases is higher than other expungements due to a change in the Expungement law.

    Experienced legal counsel greatly increases the success rate in these matters as the court must make a finding that the expungement is in 'the interest of justice'. In many cases, a Felony DUI can be reduced to a misdemeanor and then expunged.

Do You Offer Data Base Update Services?

  • Yes, we can expedite the removal of expunged or cleared records from private background check companies.  This service costs a little extra but can make a huge difference for those who need to pass a background check in the immediate future.  

Felony conviction be Reduced to a Misdemeanor?

  • In many instances, yes. This is authorized by California Penal Code 17 (b), et seq. The conviction must be a "wobbler" (a crime that may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony initially) and the Court retains discretion to grant a reduction even years after the case is over. Under California law, the reduction acts to make the conviction a misdemeanor "for all purposes" (See, People v. Gilbreth (2007) 156 Cal. App. 4th 53); this is a great advantage. If combined with an expungement, there is no additional charge to petition for a reduction also. 

What doesn't a California Criminal Expungement do?

  • You will not be allowed to own or possess a firearm until you would otherwise be able to do so (Penal Code 12021).
  • Your dismissed conviction can still be used to increase your punishment in future criminal cases, if the offense is "prior-able"- such as a DUI or theft offense. (VC 23152; PC 484)
  • An expungement will not relieve you of your duty to register as a sex offender (PC 290).

Why Expunge my record? Why spend the money?

  • There are a number of reasons to do so such as employment, housing, student loans or licensing. However, at least half our clients want to expunge their record as final "closure" on an old mistake- just for peace of mind.

Do you accept Federal Court Cases, Certificates of Rehabilitation or Pardons?

Do you "Guarantee" my Expungement?

  • No experienced attorney will make promises as to a result in any case. However, we can provide a money-back guarantee in most cases which says if we cannot get your record expunged, you get your money back.


Most of our expungement services come with a money-back guarantee. Our fees are reasonable and competitive. Call 800 495 2819 or contact us through our site for a FREE Attorney / Law Firm consultation. This site is devoted ONLY to California Expungement Law, and has handled more than 4000 California expungement cases over the past 25 years.