Sealing Your Criminal Record in California

Sealing Your Criminal Record in California

Having a criminal record is not a good thing. Undoubtedly, it can impact education, housing, and employment opportunities for years to come. Since criminal records are public information, anyone who really wants to find out if you have a record can if they try hard enough, especially when they run a criminal background check. Generally, though, it’s employers, licensing organizations, educational institutions, and landlords that will seek access to such incriminating information.

If you have a record of an arrest, criminal charges, dismissal or conviction, or any combination thereof, you may be wondering if an expungement is in order. California does not have a “true expungement,” but it does have other options to clean a criminal record.

Can Employers Ask Me About Arrests?

Suppose you have an arrest on your record and now you want to apply for a new job. You’re wondering if the employer can legally ask you in the application or verbally if you have ever been arrested for a crime. Under California Labor Code Section 432.7, it says:

  • An employer cannot ask a job applicant for information about an arrest or detention that did not result in a criminal conviction.
  • An employer cannot ask a job applicant if they have participated in or been referred to a diversion program.
  • An employer is not supposed to look for an arrest record if it did not result in a conviction.
  • An employer CAN ask a job applicant if they have been arrested and they are currently out on bail or they have been released on their own recognizance pending a trial.

Sealing a Criminal Record

One option you may have to clean your record is to have it sealed. You may have the option of sealing your arrest and criminal records if you were arrested, but a formal criminal court case charging you with a crime never occurred. You may also request to have your records sealed if:

  • You were arrested and the case was dismissed.
  • You went to trial and you were acquitted.
  • Your conviction was set aside because you were found innocent.
  • You completed a pre-filing diversion program.
  • You completed a drug diversion program.

If the judge decides that you meet the requirements to have your criminal records sealed, your records would no longer be available to the public after they’re sealed, with certain limitations. For example, certain government agencies may still have access to your records, but for the most part, the public would not have access.

Next: Can Someone Find Out if I’m Incarcerated?

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