Understanding & Cleaning Up Your Criminal Record

In the UNDERSTANDING & CLEANING UP YOUR CRIMINAL RECORD CHAPTER, you will first learn the importance of understanding your records—where that information exists in the world, and how to fix mistakes in your record early on in reentry. In the second part of the Chapter, you will learn that you may be able to “clean up” your criminal record through different kinds of “expungement” in California. Expungement helps to protect your criminal history information and keep it out of sight for certain people. In most cases, “cleaning up” your criminal record WON’T completely erase it, but it CAN make past convictions and other criminal history less visible to many, which has many benefits in different areas of your life, including applying to housing, jobs, and more.

DISCLAIMER – YOUR RESPONSIBILITY WHEN USING THIS GUIDE: When putting together the Roadmap to Reentry: A California Legal Guide, we did our best to give you useful and accurate information. However, the laws change frequently and are subject to differing interpretations. We do not always have the resources to make changes to this informational material every time the law changes. If you use information from the Roadmap to Reentry legal guide, it is your responsibility to make sure that the law has not changed and applies to your particular situation. If you are incarcerated, most of the materials you need should be available in your institution’s law library. The Roadmap to Reentry guide is not intending to give legal advice, but rather legal information. No attorney-client relationship is created by using any information in this guide. You should always consult your own attorney if you need legal advice specific to your situation.


  2. Key Concepts for Understanding your Criminal Record & Fixing Errors—Early in Reentry

    1. What is a criminal record?
    2. Why is it important to understand my criminal record?
    3. Types of Criminal Records

  3. Who Has Access to your criminal record & What They Can See

    1. Who is legally allowed to see my RAP sheet?
    2. Who is legally allowed to run a background check on me?
    3. Is there any other way that someone can see my criminal history?

    1. How do I get my California State (DOJ) RAP sheet?
    2. How do I get my federal (FBI) RAP sheet?
    3. How do I get my local (county) RAP sheet and criminal history information?
    4. How do I get a copy of my background check?

    1. Why could it be helpful to “clean up” my criminal record?
    2. If I am required to register with local law enforcement because of a sex, arson, or drug conviction, how will cleaning up my record affect my registration requirement?
    3. What information will I need to clean up my record?
    4. Why do I need this information for expungement?
    5. Where do I get this information for expungement?
    6. California “Expungement” of State Convictions

    7. Reducing Felonies to Misdemeanors

    8. Proposition 47: Reclassification and Resentencing Under the New Law

    9. Proposition 64: California’s New “Adult Use of Marijuana” Law

    10. Certificates of Rehabilitation

    11. Governor’s Pardon

    12. Sealing California State Adult Arrest Records

    13. Sealing California State Juvenile Records

    14. Federal Expungements & Dismissals

    15. U.S. Presidential Pardons

    16. Understanding & Reducing the Immigration Consequence of Criminal Records


    1. How will cleaning up my record affect my registration requirement?
    2. Sex Registration

    3. Arson Registration

    4. Drug Registration


    1. What is a DNA expungement?
    2. California DNA Expungement

    3. FBI (National) DNA Expungement

  8. Conclusion