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What is a Dismissal in California?

What is a Dismissal in California?

It’s no secret that a criminal record can haunt you for decades. But what is a criminal record and does it only include convictions? It’s a common misconception that a criminal record is limited to actual convictions, because it’s more than that.

In the United States, a criminal record or a “rap sheet” refers to arrests, charges, prosecutions, and criminal convictions – these come up on background checks. So, if you’re arrested, charged, or convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, it means that future employers, landlords, and in some cases schools, can run a background check and discover all the things you’ve been trying hard to forget.

Generally, a criminal conviction is used against someone by employers and landlords for many years, long after the individual has done the time and paid their fines. This is because the “stigma” of a criminal conviction has life-lasting consequences.

Understandably, defendants are eager to find out if there’s anything that can be done to minimize the consequences of a criminal conviction. For some, a “dismissal” is the solution.

Advantages of a Dismissal in California

Before we explain the eligibility requirements for a dismissal in California, let’s discuss the advantages. Once a conviction is dismissed (also called an expungement), from that point forward the defendant is no longer considered to be “convicted” of said offense. The court will change the person’s record to indicate a dismissal instead of a conviction. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

What impact will a dismissal have on your life? In most situations, when you apply for a job in the private sector, employers cannot ask about convictions that were dismissed. So, when you apply for a private job, you are under no obligation to disclose a conviction that was expunged or dismissed. For a lot of people, this benefit alone is worth going through the motions and asking for a dismissal.

Eligibility requirements for a dismissal include:

  • You have completed your probation requirements,
  • You were convicted of a misdemeanor but you did not receive probation,
  • You have completed a pre-filing diversion program,
  • You completed a drug diversion program, or
  • You’re on misdemeanor probation and want to apply for an early release and a dismissal.

The above is not a complete list. If you would like to learn more about the eligibility requirements for misdemeanor and felony cases, contact our firm to meet with an East Bay criminal defense attorney.

Related: Expunging Your Record vs. Sealing Your Record in California

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