An expungement is a designation that your criminal case has been dismissed. It will result in a notation on your "rap sheet" that your conviction has been dismissed.
It will allow you on most job applications to state that you were not convicted of a crime. If, however, you are applying for a government job or a job which requires a government-issued license, certificate or permit, working with the State Lottery, or a job which involves a security clearance, the conviction will be discovered. In such cases it is advised that you should disclose the conviction and its expungement; in fact, as a practical matter, in the Internet era it may be impossible to remove all available data concerning criminal charges and it may be best to disclose everything and note that the conviction was set aside and it's legally permissible to make no disclosure at all, however, you are doing so in the interests of candor and full disclosure
There are certain offenses that cannot be expunged such as an offense that resulted in a prison sentence, certain Vehicle Code violations, sex offenses and dismissed cases.
In addition, an expungement will not:
- It will not erase a conviction from your "rap sheet."
- It will not reinstate your right to possess a firearm (reduction to a misdemeanor may restore some rights under California law, but federal law probably effects a lifetime prohibition for firearm(s) possession).
- It will not allow you to stop registering as a sex offender if your conviction required you to register as a sex offender.
- It will not seal or otherwise remove the court case file from public inspection - anyone who knows where to look will be able to find the court case file. The exception being that probation reports are in confidential files and are not subject to public inspection 60 days after sentencing.
- It will not prevent the conviction from being used as a "prior" to increase punishment in case of a subsequent conviction.
- It will not allow you to omit the conviction from applications for government issued licenses.
- It will not prevent a conviction from being used by Immigration officials for removal and exclusion purposes.
Questions or comments?
Email Public Defender's Office
Last Updated: 10/2014