In today’s day and age having a criminal record has serious repercussions. Even a relatively minor conviction on your record could cause you serious problems in all areas of your life. Not surprisingly, one of the most common questions we are asked is “ Will a California conviction stay on my permanent record? Only an experienced California criminal defense attorney can review your specific conviction(s) and provide you with a concrete answer to that question; however, the good news is that for many people the answer is “no”, a conviction does not have to remain on your permanent record.
In the 21st century, background checks are routinely run for everything from employment to housing to even volunteering to coach little league. If you have a criminal conviction on your record it could cause a multitude of problems for you, including, but not limited to:
- Disqualification for employment
- Disqualification for housing
- Ineligibility for federal assistance programs or benefits
- Disqualification for volunteering for children’s extra-curricular activities
Absent action on your part, a criminal conviction will remain on your permanent record for life. Contrary to what many people believe, a criminal conviction never “falls off” your record as do civil judgments. Fortunately, California does have a fairly liberal approach to removing criminal convictions.
In California, most misdemeanors and some felonies can be “dismissed” from your permanent record if you qualify. Dismissal does not occur automatically. Instead, you must petition the court and show that your conviction qualifies for dismissal. In general, to qualify for dismissal you must have successfully completed probation if you were sentenced to it, paid all fines and costs, and not currently be charged with another offense nor be serving a sentence for another conviction since the conviction you wish dismissed. Ultimately, the judge will decide if your conviction should be dismissed.
If your conviction is dismissed, it will not show when a standard background check is run by a private employer or for other general purposes. A dismissal, however, does not mean that all record of your conviction has been erased. Government employers, licensing agencies, law enforcement, and courts will still have access to the record of your conviction. For this reason, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced California criminal defense attorney to be sure that you understand what a dismissal will and won’t accomplish.