It is a common misconception that in California, marijuana and other drug convictions disappear automatically from your record after a couple of years. In fact, in California the ONLY drug conviction that will automatically disappear from your record is for simple marijuana possession, or for offering to transport or give away less than an ounce of marijuana.
Additionally, you must have been convicted of these offenses in 1976 or later to qualify for automatic expungement. Even then, it is recommended that you follow up to be sure your record has been sealed.
A petition for expungement of your convictions must be filed for all other marijuana cases.
The Expungement Process
A special procedure, called expungement, is currently available under California Penal Code § 1203.4. Through this process, your marijuana conviction could be expunged, or dismissed, and your case vacated.
The ultimate result is that your existing guilty plea, or plea of no contest, will be removed and replaced with a not guilty plea, and your case will be dismissed. The court will then send a copy of the judge’s expungement order to the department of Justice. Your California criminal record and FBI record will reflect this new status.
To qualify for a California expungement, you must have effectively completed your probation with no violations or arrests. Furthermore, you must not be currently facing any new charges. Even though encountering some difficulties during your probation makes expungement more difficult, probation violations do not necessarily make it an impossibility.
To initiate the expungement process, you must first obtain a copy of your criminal record from the court or the California Department of Justice. You must then submit the Judicial Council form, “Petition for Dismissal” (CR-180). It might be beneficial to also submit form MC-030, allowing you to explain why particular circumstances in your life necessitate the expungement.
You must file the expungement petition in the county where you were convicted. Generally, the cost of the court filing fee is about $60-$120. If, however, you are unable to pay, you may complete a request to Waive Court Fees Form (Form FW-001).
Because your conviction will be marked as dismissed, at the conclusion of the successful expungement process, you will be able to answer “no” when most private employers ask if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime.
Successful expungement might have no bearing on some Government job and licenses applications. You must still acknowledge the conviction, however, you will be able to indicate that your case was reviewed by a judge and you were consequently granted an expungement.