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?
Like most other questions about cleaning your record, this will depend on the specific details of your situation, including the type of registration requirement you have, your conviction offense, and which of these “remedies” you use to clean up your record. Certain remedies can remove your registration requirement, while others will NOT affect your registration requirement at all, so you will still have to register. For more information about which “cleaning remedies” DO and DON’T affect your registration requirements, see PG. 985.
California offers these remedies to help you clean up your record…
- You can correct errors, fill in incomplete information, or add missing information in your record (see PG. 923 to learn about fixing errors in your RAP sheet, and see PG. 928 to learn about fixing errors in a background check);
- You may be able to get your conviction(s) expunged (see PG. 940);
- You may be able to get your felony conviction reduced (see PG. 951), or reclassified or resentenced as a misdemeanor (see PG. 953);
- You may be eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation (see PG. 964);
- You may be able to get a pardon from the governor (see PG. 967);
- You may be able to get your adult arrest record(s) sealed (see PG. 972) or get your juvenile criminal records sealed (see PG. 974);
- You may be able to get your federal conviction expunged (see PG. 976) or get a Presidential Pardon (see PG. 979).
Here is a basic overview of the different remedies available for cleaning up your record, and the rules for each type of remedy. For more information about each of these remedies, turn to the page number listed in the chart.
CLEANING UP YOUR RECORD—DIFFERENT REMEDIES
AM I ELIGIBLE?
Fixing errors in your criminal record (PG. 936)
YES! Anyone can fix errors in their record.
Your criminal record will not contain wrong, incomplete, or missing information
California Expungement (“dismissal”) (PG. 940)
You may be eligible if
You did NOT spend any time in prison for the offense;
You are OFF probation, or other supervision; AND
You are NOT currently charged with, serving a sentence for, or on probation/parole/ supervision for another offense.
Note: Certain convictions are NEVER eligible for expungement (technically called a “dismissal”).
> You must be OFF probation or other supervision
> Certain convictions require you to wait 1 or 2 years before you can apply for an expungement
(Note: If you are still on probation, you may be able to get released early, so that you can apply for expungement — see PG. 949.)
> Most private employers, private landlords, insurance companies, creditors, and other people will NOT be able to see an expunged conviction if they run a background check on you.
> Most private employers CANNOT ask about or consider a conviction that has been expunged.
Reducing felony conviction to a misdemeanor under Cal. Penal Code § 17(b)
You may be eligible if:
Your conviction was for a felony “wobbler”, AND
You were NOT sentenced to state prison;
You were NOT sentenced to county jail under CA’s Realignment laws; AND
You were sentenced to PROBATION.
You can apply anytime, but you will have a much better chance if you wait until you are half-way through or done with your probation term.
> You can say that you were never convicted of the felony
> Restores your rights to vote and sit on a jury
> May restore your gun rights
> Removes many legal barriers to getting professional licenses and jobs
Prop. 47: Reclassifying and/or resentencing felony conviction
You are eligible if your conviction is for one of the covered offenses (see list PG. 954), AND you do NOT have a conviction for a “super strike” felony, and you are NOT required to register as a sex-offender.
ASAP!—You MUST apply before November 2022.
> Reduces your current sentence or term of supervision
> Offers immediate release if you have already served your reduced sentence
> Changes your conviction to a misdemeanor
> Removes legal barriers and restores most rights lost due to felony conviction
Prop. 64: Reclassifying and/or resentencing certain felony marijuana convictions to misdemeanors, infractions or getting them dismissed
You are eligible if your conviction is for one of the covered offenses (see list PG. 959). Unlike Prop. 47, you are not automatically disqualified if you have a conviction for a “super strike” felony or are required to register as a sex-offender under Cal. Pen. Code section 290(c), but the trial court may impose higher punishment under those circumstances.
> Legalizes certain marijuana offenses related to personal use where the individual is 21 or older
> Reduces the penalties for certain marijuana offenses to wobblers, misdemeanors, or infractions
> Restores all civil rights denied due to a felony conviction where sentence is recalled
> May be relieved of duty to register
Certificate of Rehabilitation (PG. 964)
You may be eligible if
> You were convicted of felony and you served a state prison sentence for it OR You were convicted of a felony or misdemeanor sex offense, AND your conviction was expunged, AND have not been incarcerated since then, AND are not on formal probation
> Lived in California for last 5 years
Note: You are NOT eligible if you have a conviction for certain serious sex offenses; were sentenced to death penalty; have mandatory lifetime probation; are in the military; or no longer live in California.
> You must be OFF probation, parole, or PRCS
> You must complete 7-10 year waiting (“rehabilitation”) period, based on conviction offense
[Note: You can request a COR before the end of your waiting period, but it must be “in the interests of justice” to grant it early.]
> Serves as official proof of your rehabilitation
> May remove sex offender registration requirement
> Serves as automatic application for governor’s pardon
> You were convicted of felony or misdemeanor sex offense; AND
> Your conviction is from California.
> If you get a COR, you are automatically applied for a pardon.
> If no COR, 10-year waiting period for direct application.
> May be recommended for pardon by BPH while incarcerated.
> May restore your gun rights.
> Restores your right to vote and sit on a jury.
> Removes sex offender registration requirement.
> Allows you to work as parole agent or probation officer.
> Restores your right to hold public office.
Sealing adult arrest records (PG. 972)
You may be eligible if
> You were arrested as adult;
> Your arrest did NOT lead to a conviction;
> You have NO other convictions connected to the arrest; AND
> You are found factually innocent of the charges.
You must apply within 2 years after you are arrest or charged.
[Note: You may apply later, but you must show good reason for not applying earlier.]
> All records related to arrest and criminal proceedings are sealed and destroyed.
> It’s as if the arrest and prosecution never occurred.
Sealing juvenile records
You may be eligible if
> You are over 18, OR it has been 5 years since your last arrest or probation discharge;
> No adult convictions for felony or misdemeanor of “moral turpitude”;
> Case started and ended in juvenile court; AND
> NO open civil lawsuit from juvenile offense.
[Note: You are NOT eligible if juvenile adjudication was for certain violent offenses AND you were over 14 at time of offense.]
> As soon as you are over 18;
>5 years after your last arrest or discharge from probation.
> All court, law enforcement, and other records are sealed and destroyed.
> It’s as if the juvenile case never occurred.
Federal expungement or dismissal (PG. 976)
You may be eligible if
> You were convicted of “simple” possession of drugs under federal law;
> You were in possession of a drug covered by the statute;
> You were only convicted of one drug-related offense (state or federal);
> You successfully completed probation with NO violations.
As soon as you complete probation.
> Under 21 at time of offense - ALL records of conviction, arrest, and criminal proceedings are destroyed as if it never happened;
> Over 21 at time of offense – All records of conviction, arrest, and criminal proceedings are sealed (but not destroyed).
Presidential pardon (PG. 979)
>You were convicted of a federal offense;
You have completed your sentence (including any parole or probation term).
5 years from the date of your release (or from the date of your conviction if you were never incarcerated).
> Restores any civil rights lost due to federal conviction, including gun rights;
> Does not restore rights lost due to state convictions.
Be prepared to show support for your clean record!
For almost every type of “cleaning” remedy, you will need to convince a judge (or sometimes the Governor or President) of why you deserve the remedy you are asking for. When you ask to have your record cleaned up (usually by filing papers in court or with the government), you will want to make sure that the judge (or Governor) has all possible materials that support your request, such as letters of support, school transcripts, awards, certificates of achievement, and diplomas.