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How to Expunge a Criminal Record

An expunged criminal record means that a defendant's prior criminal conviction is cleared from public record as a conviction. Most misdemeanors, felonies, and infractions may be expunged. Some convictions are not subject to expungement.


Obtaining an expungement is excellent for persons searching for better employment and professional licenses i.e. doctors, nurses, lawyers, therapists, teachers, dentists, psychologist, etc.


To expunge a criminal record the defendant will need to file and serve expungement paperwork, including declarations, with the court, the district attorney, and with the probation department where the conviction was entered. The defendant will receive his or her court date upon the filing of the expungement paperwork.

The following are the requirements for an expungement when the defendant was granted probation:

  • 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 requirements for an expungement when the defendant was not granted probation:

  • 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

Some convictions are not eligible for expungement. These convictions include the following sex crimes: PC 286(c) Sodomy of a Minor, PC 288.5 Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Minor, PC 288a(c) Oral Copulation with a Minor, PC 289(j) Sexual Penetration of a Minor, PC 288 Lewd Acts Crimes, PC 311 Child Pornography Crimes, & PC 261.5(d) Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with a Minor.

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: Other exceptions may apply.


Certificate of Rehabilitation: 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 record will still be visible to anyone searching local databases for your criminal history; however, the display of the criminal record will show that the criminal case was dismissed in local criminal records.

To learn more about expungements, including eligibility requirements, 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!


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