top of page

How to Expunge a Criminal Record
PC 1203.4a, 1203.4(a), 1203.4(b), & 1203.41

An expunged criminal record means that a defendant's prior criminal conviction is cleared from public records as a conviction. This is true even if the defendant (Petitioner) was actually criminal convicted of the crime that he now seeks to expunge.


Most, but not all, misdemeanors, felonies, and infractions may be expunged. However, the burden of proof required in order to expunge a criminal record will depend on the exact crime for which the defendant was convicted.


For example, expunging a criminal conviction for vehicular manslaughter (PC 192(c)) is much more difficult than expunging a criminal conviction for misdemeanor shoplifting (PC 490.5), or misdemeanor DUI (VC 23152).


Employment & Expungement: Obtaining an expungement is excellent for anyone searching for better employment and professional licenses (i.e. doctors, nurses, lawyers, therapists, teachers, dentists, psychologist, etc.). With limitation, an expunged criminal record generally allows a person to claim that he or she has not been convicted of the expunged crime on employment applications.

How to Expunge a Criminal Record

Court Process: To expunge a criminal record the defendant will need to file and serve required expungement paperwork, including the defendant's declarations, to various public agencies, such as the criminal court, the district attorney, and the probation department where the conviction was entered.


This paperwork process is usually handled by an experienced expungement attorney because criminal court judges are not lenient on the rule for expungement simply because the defendant is unaware of the legal rules.


In any event, if a defendant wishes to proceed without an expungement attorney, the defendant can find many, but not all, of the required expungement legal documents at their local criminal courthouse website and at California penal code section 1203.4 & 1203.41.

Note: Relief shall not be granted under this section unless the prosecuting attorney has been given 15 days’ notice of the petition for relief. The probation officer shall notify the prosecuting attorney when a petition is filed, pursuant to this section (PC 1203.4(d)(1)).

How Long Does Expungement Take

The defendant will receive his or her court date upon the filing of the expungement paperwork. The court date is usually one to four months out from the date of filing the expungement paperwork, depending on the criminal court's calendar and backlog of cases.


Note: Petitioners who are filing for expungement of misdemeanor crimes will not usually face as many requested continuances from the district attorney as petitioners who are attempting to expunge felony convictions. Therefore, an expungement of a felony conviction typically takes longer than an expungement of a misdemeanor conviction.

Important: Any arguments proffered in support of an expungement request should made by a criminal defense lawyer if possible. The whole process, from filing to final court hearing on the matter usually takes 1-4 months depending on the severity of the underlying crime and other factors and the defendant's criminal history, but non-lawyer mistakes can extend the process unnecessarily.

Do I Quality for an Expungement

An expungement is possible for most California misdemeanor and felony crimes. However, some criminal convictions are not eligible for expungement. These non-qualifying convictions include the following sex crimes:


  • Sodomy of a Minor (PC 286(c));

  • Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Minor (PC 288.5);

  • Oral Copulation with a Minor (PC 288a(c) & 287(c));

  • Sexual Penetration of a Minor (PC 289(j));

  • Lewd Acts Crimes (PC 288);

  • Child Pornography Crimes (PC 311);

  • Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with a Minor where defendant is more than 10 years older than victim (PC 261.5(d)), and,

  • Misdemeanor and felony evading crimes (VC 2800).

Note: The full list of expungement-qualify convictions, and non-qualifying convictions, may be found at California penal code sections 1203.4a, 1203.4(a), and 1203.41.

Other Expungement Requirements

The following are the requirements for an expungement when the defendant was granted probation (PC 1203a):

  • The defendant is no longer on probation, and

  • The defendant is not currently on probation for any offense, and

  • The defendant is not currently charged with committing any new offense.

The following are the requirements for an expungement when the defendant was not granted probation (PC 1203.4(a) & PC 1203.41)):

  • There has been at least a year from the date of conviction, and

  • The defendant fully complied with his or her sentence, and

  • The defendant is not now serving a sentence for any new offense, and

  • The defendant is not currently charged with committing a new offense.

District Attorney's Failure to Object: If..., the prosecuting attorney fails to appear and object to a petition for expungement and dismissal, the prosecuting attorney may not move to set aside or otherwise appeal the grant of that petition (PC 1203.4(e)).

Do I Qualify for Expungement after Prison


Recent changes in California expungement law now allows some convictions, which were previously not eligible because the defendant was sent to prison, are now eligible for expungement in limited situations under California's new penal code section 1203.41 and 1203.4(b).


For more information on whether you qualify for expungement after a felony conviction that resulted in prison incarceration, contact our expungement lawyers for a free consultation 909-913-3138.


Note: Some criminal convictions are eligible for expungement but only if the judge finds that expunging the defendant’s record is in the best interest of justice. These crimes include PC 192.5 & 192(c) vehicular manslaughter; (VC 20001 & 20002) Hit and Run Driving; VC 23152 & 23153 DUI; VC 23103 Reckless Driving; VC 2800.2 & 2800.3 Evading; VC 23109 Speed Contest; VC 14601 & 14601.1-5 Driving While License is Suspended; and more.​

Expungement Limitations: As stated, expungements are great for clearing criminal records so that a defendant has a much better chance at obtaining employment or a professional license. However, an expunged record is not a complete clearing of the defendant's criminal history. For example, an expunged criminal record may still be used against the defendant in the following situations:

  • By the federal government in immigration cases. Criminal convictions, even if expunged, may still be used by the federal government against immigrants in deportation proceedings.

  • By the federal government in military enrollment decisions. The federal government may use a criminal conviction, even if the conviction is expunged, in deciding whether or not to accept an applicant for military service.

  • In subsequent criminal cases. Criminal convictions that are expunged may still be used to prove a prior conviction in a subsequent criminal case.​​​

  • By professional licensing agencies. Criminal convictions, even if expunged, must still be disclosed, if directly questioned, by an applicant for professional license or public office, including the California State Lottery Commission. Note: One criminal conviction for a misdemeanor, which is successfully expunged, should not be used against an applicant in his effort to obtain a professional or occupational license (i.e. doctor, dentist, lawyer, therapist, dentist, teacher, etc.).

  • The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may use a criminal record, even if expunged, against the driver for purposes of accruing points against the driver’s record, suspending the driver’s license, and more.​​

  • Note: Other exceptions may apply.

Certificate of Rehab: As stated, most crimes are eligible for an expungement, even most felony conviction, so long as the defendant is not on probation and he or she is not facing new criminal charges. For cases that are not eligible for an expungement, a Certificate of Rehabilitation or a Pardon may be available for the defendant.

Seal & Destroy Criminal Record: An expungement does not seal or destroy a criminal record. The defendant’s criminal record will remain visible to anyone searching local databases for the defendant’s criminal history; however, the display of the criminal record will show that the defendant entered a plea of not guilty and the criminal case was thereafter dismissed.

To learn more about expungements, including eligibility requirements, or timing and service requirements, contact criminal our expungement attorneys today for a free consultation. Our attorneys have successfully handled hundreds of expungement cases and we are available every day of the week to answer all of your questions. Call today!


Criminal Defense Lawyers
San Bernardino County
Free Consultations
Se Habla Español


All Misdemeanor & Felonies

  • Embezzlement

  • Oral Copulation

  • Rape

  • Domestic Battery

  • Annoy or Molest a Child

  • Lewd and Lascivious Acts

  • Assault

  • Unauthorized Use of Vehicle

  • Murder

  • Trespass

  • Child Endangerment

  • DUI

  • Theft

  • Welfare Fraud

  • Conspiracy

  • Hit and Run

  • Manslaughter

  • Battery

  • Prostitution

  • Criminal Threats

  • Kidnapping

  • Criminal Porn

  • Burglary

  • Grand Theft Auto

  • Stalking

  • Robbery

  • Receiving Stolen Property

  • Brandishing a Weapon

  • Resisting Arrest

  • Evading Police

  • Perjury

  • Vandalism

  • Statutory Rape

  • Obstruction

  • Sexual Battery

  • Corporal Injury to Spouse

  • Indecent Exposure

Criminal Defense Lawyers PC Misdemenor Felony Jail Prison Sentence Probation San Bernrdino Rialto Colton, Redlands, Victorville, Highland Hesperia, Yucaipa, Ontario, Rancho Cucamnga, Fontana, Colton, Loma Linda, Upland, Adelanto

Ontario, Chino, Adelanto, Victorville, Rialto, Highland, Rancho Cucamonga, Loma Linda, San Bernardino, Redlands, Montclair, Upland, Colton, Yucaipa, Hesperia, Fontana

expunge expungement criminal history and record how to expunged pc law legal lawyers attorneys se habla espanol abogado de defensa criminal redlands fontana rialto colton ontarion rancho cucamonga highland hesperia san bernardino yucaipa victorville

CA Expungement Law (Abbrev).

When a defendant has fulfilled the conditions of probation for the entire period of probation, or has been discharged prior to the termination of the period of probation, or in any other case in which a court, in its discretion and the interest of justice, determines that a defendant should be granted the relief available under [PC 1204], the defendant shall, at any time after the termination of the period of probation, if they are not then serving a sentence for an offense, on probation for an offense, or charged with the commission of an offense, be permitted by the court to withdraw their plea of guilty or plea of nolo contendere and enter a plea of not guilty; or, if they have been convicted after a plea of not guilty, the court shall set aside the verdict of guilty; and, in either case, the court shall thereupon dismiss the accusations or information against the defendant and except as noted below the defendant shall thereafter be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which they have been convicted, except as provided in Section 13555 of the Vehicle Code (PC 1203.4(a)(1)).


The probationer shall be informed, in their probation papers, of this right and privilege and the right, if any, to petition for a certificate of rehabilitation and pardon. The probationer may make the application and change of plea in person or by attorney, or by the probation officer authorized in writing (PC 1203.4(a)(1)).


However, in any subsequent prosecution of the defendant for any other offense, the prior conviction may be pleaded and proved and shall have the same effect as if probation had not been granted or the accusation or information dismissed. The order shall state, and the probationer shall be informed, that the order does not relieve them of the obligation to disclose the conviction in response to any direct question contained in any questionnaire or application for public office, for licensure by any state or local agency, or for contracting with the California State Lottery Commission (PC 1203.4(a)(1)).

Dismissal of an accusation or information pursuant to this section does not permit a person to own, possess, or have custody or control of a firearm....  (PC 1203.4(a)(2) Abbrev.).

Dismissal of an accusation or information underlying a conviction pursuant to this section does not permit a person prohibited from holding public office as a result of that conviction to hold public office (PC 1203.4(a)(3)).


Dismissal of an accusation or information pursuant to this section does not release the defendant from the terms and conditions of an unexpired criminal protective order that has been issued by the court ... (related to a conviction for PC 273.5, PC 136.2, PC 368, or PC 646.9) These protective orders shall remain in full effect until expiration or until any further order by the court modifying or terminating the order, despite the dismissal of the underlying accusation or information (PC 1203.4(a)(4) Abbrev.).

Subdivision (a) of this section does not apply to a misdemeanor that is within the provisions of Section 42002.1 of the Vehicle Code, to a violation of subdivision (c) of Section 286, Section 288, subdivision (c) of Section 287 or of former Section 288a, Section 288.5, subdivision (j) of Section 289, Section 311.1, 311.2, 311.3, or 311.11, or a felony conviction pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 261.5, or to an infraction (PC 1203.4(b)).


Except as provided in paragraph (2), subdivision (a) does not apply to a person who receives a notice to appear or is otherwise charged with a violation of an offense described in subdivisions (a) to (e), inclusive, of Section 12810 of the Vehicle Code (PC 1203.4(c)(1)).


If a defendant who was convicted of a violation listed in paragraph (1) petitions the court, the court in its discretion and in the interest of justice, may order the relief provided pursuant to subdivision (a) to that defendant (PC 1203.4(c)(2)).


A petition for relief under this section shall not be denied due to an unfulfilled order of restitution or restitution fine (PC 1203.4(c)(3)(A)).

bottom of page