Overview of Expungement & Record Sealing In California

  • May 13th, 2016
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Enduring the criminal judicial process is very challenging. In the event that you were convicted of a criminal offense and a sentence was imposed, getting your life back in order is even more challenging than the criminal judicial process. However, this article provides useful information and valuable resources that allows you to get your life back in order. One option to explore after your sentence has been completed is expungement. The expungement process allows certain individuals to clean up their criminal record. Once the expungement is granted, your conviction is removed and a dismissal is entered into the record. California Penal Code Section 1203.4 explains the expungement process.

The Judicial Council of California recognized the importance of having a clean record and published Cleaning Your Record. This guide also contains the Judicial Council forms that are utilized during the expungement process. Although the expungement process appears to be simple and straightforward, retaining the services of an experienced expungement attorney is highly recommended.


It is very important to understand the difference between an expungement (California Penal Code Section 1203.4) and the sealing of a criminal record (California Penal Code Section 851.8). A person contemplating which of these two options best serves their respective needs are encouraged to watch the following videos. Expungemetn via Penal Code 1203.4 is for convictions. Record Sealing via Penal Code Section 851.8 is for cases that did not lead to a conviction. There are also special statutes for certain types of cases that ended in the successful completion of a diversion program. In the event that a person wishes to further explore the expungement process, they are encouraged to complete the expungement questionnaire. There are also special procedures for juvenile criminal records or records of juvenile deliquencies (another term for being acused of violating the law). In some instances, juvenile records are sealed automatically as long as the offense was not one listed in California Welfare & Institutions Code section 707(b). More information abou this can be found at here.