As we all know, having a criminal record will negatively impact many areas of a person’s life. A criminal record affects housing, employment, and professional licenses to name a few.
With the above in mind, it makes sense as to why people would want to do everything possible to show future employers and society that they are making a good faith effort to make for a brighter future.
If you have a criminal history in the state of California, how you go about clearing up your record will depend on a few factors, such as the following:
- Whether you were convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony.
- If you were convicted of a misdemeanor and you completed your probation.
- If you were convicted of a misdemeanor without probation.
- If you were convicted of a felony, and you are still on probation now.
- If you were convicted of a felony, but you have finished your county jail time or your probation.
- If you were convicted of a felony, and you were: remanded to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, or sent to state prison.
For example, if you were convicted of a misdemeanor offense and you are still on probation today, your criminal defense attorney would request early release from probation and then he or she would petition the court to have your conviction dismissed.
If you were convicted of a misdemeanor and you already completed your probation, your lawyer would file a petition with the court asking that your conviction be dismissed.
In contrast, if you were convicted of a felony and you finished your probation or county jail sentence, your attorney would petition to have your felony reduced to a misdemeanor, then they would ask the court to have your conviction dismissed.
What is a dismissal under California law?
When people are convicted of infractions, misdemeanors or felonies in California and they were not sentenced to state prison, and not remanded to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, they have the opportunity to ask the court for a “dismissal.”
When a motion is filed correctly, the court may agree to withdraw the individual’s guilty or no contest (nolo contendere) plea, or a guilty verdict from trial, and instead enter a not guilty plea. In that case, the court sets the case aside and dismisses the conviction.
Once the court dismisses a conviction, the individual is no longer considered to have been “convicted” of the crime. Rather, the record shows a dismissal and not a conviction.
Note: If you attend and successfully complete a “diversion program,” your record will be changed to show a dismissal. However, if you fail to complete the requirements, or if you are not allowed to participate in diversion, your record will show a conviction.