How can I clean my record?

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After an arrest, cleaning your criminal record is possible, and it can help reduce the impact of any convictions in your past. While California law does not allow you to remove arrests and convictions from your record entirely, it does allow you to seal them from public view and prevent them from further impacting your life.

When is someone eligible to clear a conviction from their record?

To clear a conviction from your record or have a charge reduced, you must meet specific requirements. These include:

  • In misdemeanor or infraction cases, if you completed the terms of your probation, were granted early termination of your probation or were not given probation and have waited at least one year
  • In felony cases, if you did not serve time in state prison
  • You are not on probation or parole for any case
  • You do not have any pending criminal charges

It is also important to remember that sealing your record is not an option for every type of criminal charge. Vehicle infractions and some sex crimes, for example, are not eligible for sealing.

Can someone clean their record if they were not convicted?

Sometimes, an arrest record can significantly impact your life, even if you were not convicted of the crime. Luckily, you can clean your record of these arrests. If the authorities did not file charges, the judge dismissed the charges, or you completed a diversion program, you can ask to seal your arrest record. People who were factually innocent of the crime can go one step further, with the judge ordering the record of your arrest sealed and destroyed.

How might someone benefit from cleaning their record?

Having a conviction on your criminal record limits your rights and opportunities in many ways. However, sealing your record removes that conviction or arrest from public view. While you must still disclose your arrest in certain documentation and law enforcement can still access the record, this process can benefit you in various ways.

One significant reason people apply to have their records sealed is to ease the challenges of applying for housing or employment. Background checks for employment and housing can make it challenging for those with a criminal record to get a new job or home. Record cleaning can help reduce the likelihood of having these applications rejected.

Could cleaning your record help you move forward?

It can be valuable for those with a criminal record to explore the legal option to clear that record. While the process involves significant paperwork and time, it can offer a path to a brighter future.