If you have been charged with a criminal offense in San Diego California your primary concern may be that the disposition of your case does not require you to serve any time in jail or prison. A conviction itself, however, even if you are not sentenced to a period of incarceration, comes with a variety of negative consequences. For this reason, you should also be concerned whether the disposition of your criminal case will become part of your criminal record in San Diego CA.
A criminal conviction can be a bar to employment, housing, visitation or custody of the minor child, and even eligibility for federal benefits and/or federal student loans. Absent action on your part, a California criminal conviction will remain on your permanent criminal record forever. Of course, preventing a conviction in the first place is the best possible outcome. If the facts of the case make dismissal or acquittal highly unlikely entering into a diversion program may be an option. While each diversion program in California has slightly different eligibility criteria and completion requirements, the basic concept remains the same. Upon successful completion with all of the terms of the program the state of California will dismiss the charges against you, meaning a conviction will not be entered on your permanent record.
If you have already been convicted of a criminal offense you may be eligible to have the conviction dismissed after the fact if you have successfully completed all of the terms of your sentence. In California, “dismissal” in this context is similar to what is referred to as “expunging” or “sealing” the record of a conviction. In general, you may be eligible for a dismissal if you are convicted of an infraction, a misdemeanor, or even a felony if your sentence did not require you to serve time in a state prison or otherwise order you to be under the authority of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. If you are convicted of and eligible felony your conviction must first be reduced to a misdemeanor and then dismissed. If your conviction was for a felony that is not eligible for dismissal your only option is to file a petition for a certificate of rehabilitation and pardon.
If your conviction is successfully dismissed you may answer “no” on most employment applications and in other situations when asked if you have ever been convicted of a criminal offense. There are, however, exceptions to this general rule. On an application for employment with the government, for instance, you are still required to divulge the conviction. Be sure to consult with your San Diego criminal defense attorney to be certain you understand what your dismissal means and how it impacts your criminal record in San Diego CA.
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