If you have a conviction for a criminal offense in San Diego, you may be concerned about how that conviction impacts your future. Specifically, you may be wondering if you now have a criminal record. The short answer to that is that “yes”, you do have a criminal record. The good news, for some, is that you may be able to clean up your criminal record in San Diego and have your conviction officially dismissed. If you are eligible for a dismissal the conviction will be withdrawn from your record and will no longer show when most criminal record searches are conducted.
A criminal conviction does go onto your permanent record and will remain there for life unless a court orders it removed. This applies to misdemeanors as well as felony convictions. Having a conviction on your criminal record can prevent you from being offered jobs, can prevent you from qualifying for a professional license, and may even impact your insurance rates. People frequently accept a guilty plea for a relatively minor offense because it seems easier than fighting the case and the punishment is minimal. Later on they realize that the conviction itself is the real punishment as it has a negative impact on all facets of life.
Fortunately, the California legislature understands that otherwise law abiding citizens can make a mistake and that they should not have to continue to pay for that mistake long after the court has disposed of the case. San Diego allows you to apply to have your conviction dismissed if you are eligible. All misdemeanor convictions are potentially eligible for dismissal; however, you must first successfully complete your term of probation if you were ordered to serve a probationary period. You may be able to apply for early termination of your probation but one way or another your probationary period must have successfully ended before applying for dismissal.
If you were convicted of certain felonies you may also qualify for dismissal of the conviction. Before your conviction is dismissed, it may first be reduced to a misdemeanor by the court (if it is a “wobbler.”) Therefore, for a felony dismissal you may apply to reduce the conviction to a misdemeanor and then apply for dismissal. If you were convicted of a felony and were sentenced to state prison or sentenced under the authority of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, you are not eligible for a dismissal of the conviction.
The effect of a dismissal is that most private employers or other entities will not see the record of your conviction if a background check is conducted. Be sure to consult with an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney, however, because the record of your conviction does still exist and can be used against you should you commit another offense.