One of the good things about the American Criminal Justice System is the focus on rehabilitation. While very few are actually rehabilitated in the jail or prison system, the law allows for individuals to seek somewhat of a fresh start.
Whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, you have the opportunity to get charges dismissed from your record in one of two ways, an expungement (dismissal) or a certificate of rehabilitation and pardon.
Both should be exercised whenever possible to give convicted persons a better shot a life.
What is Dismissal?
If you were convicted of an infraction, a misdemeanor, or a felony and were not sentenced to state prison or put under the authority of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation , you can petition for a dismissal. This means you were given county jail time, probation, a fine, or a combination of those three. If you are petitioning for a dismissal, the court, upon proper motion, may withdraw your guilty or no contest (nolo contendere) plea, or verdict of guilt if you went to trial, and enter a not guilty plea.
Then the court will set aside and dismiss the conviction. From that point forward, you are no longer considered convicted of the offense. Your record will be changed to show a dismissal rather than a conviction.
When are you eligible for a dismissal?
You are eligible for dismissal of a conviction, and the court will dismiss your conviction, if:
- You received probation for that conviction and:
- You successfully completed probation or obtained early release;
- You also have paid all the fines, restitution, and reimbursements ordered by the court as part of your sentence;
- You are not currently serving another sentence or on probation for another offense; AND
- You are not currently charged with another offense.
- You never received probation and:
- Your conviction was a misdemeanor or an infraction;
- It has been at least 1 year since the date you were convicted;
- You have complied fully with the sentence of the court;
- You are not currently serving another sentence;
- You are not currently charged with another offense; AND
- You have obeyed the law and lived an honest and upright life since the time of your conviction.
- You received probation but you did not get an early release, did not fulfill all the conditions of probation, or were convicted of any offense listed in Vehicle Code section 12810(a) to (e) BUT:
- You have paid all the fines, restitution, and reimbursements ordered by the court as part of your sentence; AND
- You are not currently charged with, on probation for, or serving a sentence for any other offense.
Convictions not eligible for dismissal:
If you were convicted of any of the following offenses, you are not eligible for a dismissal under Penal Code section 1203.4a :
Effects of Dismissal:
Once all your convictions have been dismissed, this is what you can expect:
Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon:
When you have been convicted of a felony and have served time in State Prison, you may be eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon. While this will not dismiss the charge, it basically notifies the public that you have been rehabilitated restoring some of your rights that you lost upon conviction. These include: the right to a firearm (possibly), the right to vote, and better employment opportunities.