Dismissal of Criminal Conviction

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Northern California & Sacramento Dismissal of Felony or Misdemeanor Charges after Probation (Penal Code Section 1203.4) or after Completion of County Jail Felony Sentence (Penal Code 1203.41)

California Penal Code section 1203.4 (a) allows you to petition the Judge for a dismissal of a criminal conviction. For most criminal convictions, if you successfully complete all terms and conditions of probation, you are entitled to a dismissal of the the case. You are allowed to withdraw your guilty plea and enter a not guilty plea and the Department of Justice is Notified to update the entry in your criminal record.

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California Penal Code section 1203.4 (a)

This relief is not available for convictions of offenses specified in Penal Code 1203.4(b). These include most felony child molestation offenses, certain other sex offenses, a few traffic offenses, and infractions.

If your conviction is dismissed pursuant to 1203.4 your conviction is not expunged or sealed. Instead, an extra entry is added to your background stating “dismissed,” is made on your background. If a petition pursuant to 1203.4 is granted, the petitioner must be released from all “penalties and disabilities” resulting from the conviction. However, there are limitations to relief granted under this section. Under 1203.4(a), the order dismissing the charges:

  • Does not prevent the conviction from being used as a prior conviction for penalty enhancements on any new charges.
  • Does not relieve you of the obligation to disclose the conviction in response to any direct question in any questionnaire or application for public office or license by any state or local agency.
    • Note: 2 California Code of Regulations 1107(d) states that a private employer may not ask a job applicant about any misdemeanor conviction dismissed under penal code 1203.4
  • Does not permit a person to own, possess, or have in his custody or control any firearm; nor does dismissal prevent a person from being convicted as an ex-offender in possession of a gun; and
  • Does not relieve a person required to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration Act (Penal Code 290-290.023) of the obligation to register or exempt inclusion in the Meagan’s Law website.
    • Note: A person required to register as a sex offender who receives a 1203.4 relief may apply for a certificate of rehabilitation and pardon. Penal Code 4852.01(c). If the offense is not listed in Penal code 290.5(a)(2), a certificate of rehabilitation will end the duty to register.
  • Dismissal does not make the conviction records unavailable to the public.
  • Dismissal does not prevent state licensing agencies from using the conviction in their licensing decisions.
  • Dismissal does not prevent denial of foster care license for certain crimes pursuant to Health and Safety Code 1522(g).
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Employment Reasons to Petition the Court for Dismissal of Criminal Conviction in Sacramento

If you do get relief granted pursuant to 1203.4(a) of the Penal Code, Employers, with the exceptions discussed below, cannot ask job applicants in writing or orally about, or seek information about, or use as a factor in any employment decision any of the following:

  • Arrests or detentions that did not result in a conviction;
  • Convictions that have been judicially dismissed or sealed pursuant to law, including but not limited to Penal Code 1203.4, 1203.4a, 1203.45, and 1210.1 (2 Cal Code Regulations section 11017(d)–juvenile offense records sealed under Welfare and Institutions code 389 and Penal Code 851.7 or 1203.45; or
  • Information about a referral to, and participation in any pretrial or post-trial diversion program.

The federal government has no general obligation to recognize Penal code 1203.4 relief but the federal government does give limited recognition to state court dismissals. See 18 USC Section 921(a)(20), recognizing state dismissal for firearms purposes, if dismissal permits the person to possess a firearm. A Penal Code 1203.4 dismissal does not constitute “expungement” as defined in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Exceptions to these employer decision prohibitions are

  • If you seek a job as a police officer or Department of Justice or other criminal justice agencies
  • Employers at health care facilities who hire employees with regular access to patients about arrests for sex offenses listed in Penal Code 290 and ask job seekers with access to drugs or medication about arrests for offenses specified in Health and Safety Code 11590.
  • Job seekers who are required to possess or use a firearm during employment;
  • Retail pharmacies can ask potential employees whether they have been convicted of any crime involving or related to controlled substances

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