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How Long Does a Misdemeanor Stay on Your Record in California?

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve made some mistakes in the past that have landed you with a misdemeanor charge in California. Perhaps it was a momentary lapse in judgment, a youthful indiscretion, or a simple misunderstanding that led to a criminal record.

Whatever the case may be, you’re now ready to turn your life around and move forward with a clean slate.But before you can do that, you must understand the consequences of your past actions.

How long will that misdemeanor stay on your record in California? How will it impact your job prospects, housing options, and personal relationships? These are important questions that require clear and concise answers.

In this blog, we’ll provide you with the information you need to move forward confidently. We’ll explore the ins and outs of misdemeanors in California, including how long they stay on your record and how to get them expunged and minimize their impact on your life.

Whether you’re a first-time offender or have had previous run-ins with the law, this blog will give you the knowledge and tools to turn your life around and start fresh. So, let’s dive in and explore the path to a brighter future.

For more help, reach out to the team of Bay Area criminal defense lawyers at The Nieves Law Firm.

What Is a Misdemeanor in California?

In California, a misdemeanor is a criminal offense that is less serious than a felony but more serious than an infraction. Misdemeanors can include many offenses, such as petty theft, DUI, assault, and certain drug charges.

Misdemeanors are typically punishable by a maximum of one year in county jail, up to $1,000 in fines, and other penalties. In some cases, a judge may also impose probation, community service, or other forms of rehabilitation.

It’s important to note that even though misdemeanors are considered less serious than felonies, they can still have significant consequences. A misdemeanor conviction can result in a criminal record, affecting your ability to obtain employment, housing, and professional licenses. Understanding your legal rights and options is crucial if facing a misdemeanor charge in California.

California Misdemeanor Recordkeeping 

In California, misdemeanors can have a lasting impact on an individual’s criminal record. California’s law is less forgiving than some states with automatic expungement or sealing a criminal record for certain misdemeanors. Expungements in other states result in the crime being completely removed from your criminal record – it disappears completely or becomes inaccessible. In California, misdemeanor convictions will generally remain on your criminal record for life unless the conviction is remedied through a petition to dismiss. It is important to note that there is no such thing as a true “expungement” in California that would completely “erase” your criminal record; but rather, a petition to dismiss will convert your conviction to a dismissal. The entry would remain on the criminal record but the language would change from saying “conviction” to “dismissed.”.

This means that even a minor misdemeanor conviction, like shoplifting, can show up on background checks and affect an individual’s employment opportunities, housing options, and other important areas of life. In some cases, a misdemeanor conviction, such as a domestic violence conviction, may also result in losing certain civil rights, like the right to possess firearms.

However, it is important to note that the California version of an expungement is available for many misdemeanor convictions in California. By meeting certain eligibility criteria and following the necessary legal procedures, individuals may be able to have their misdemeanor convictions dismissed on their criminal records. This can provide significant relief and allow individuals to overcome their past mistakes.

Expunging Misdemeanors in California: What You Need to Know

The California version of expungement can help individuals with past convictions move forward with their lives without having to worry about potential repercussions down the road. A petition to dismiss allows people to find employment opportunities and housing more easily since these convictions will be deemed dismissed when prospective employers or landlords conduct background checks.

The process of dismissing a misdemeanor crime in California requires meeting certain eligibility criteria and following the necessary legal procedures. The Petition to Dismiss process in California Penal Code section 1203.4 outlines the legal procedures for “expunging” a misdemeanor offense in California.

If you received probation for the misdemeanor, you must meet the following requirements to apply for expungement:

  • Successfully completed probation or obtained an early termination of probation
  • Paid all fines, restitution, and other court-ordered fees
  • Must not have any pending criminal charges

If you were not sentenced to probation, you might apply if you meet the following criteria:

  • At least one year has passed since the conviction date
  • You have complied with all the terms of your sentencing
  • You are not facing any additional charges or probation
  • You have followed the law and maintained honesty since your conviction

Additionally, you must file a petition for dismissal with the court that oversaw your case. The court will review the petition and decide whether to grant the expungement request.

Take Action Today With The Nieves Law Firm

If you are seeking legal assistance for criminal defense or expungement in California, The Nieves Law Firm is here to help you. Our experienced criminal defense lawyers have a proven track record of successfully representing clients in various criminal cases, from minor misdemeanors to serious felonies.

Additionally, we have helped many clients clear their criminal records through California versions of expungements called petitions to dismiss, which can significantly impact their future job prospects, housing opportunities, and more.

At The Nieves Law Firm in Oakland, we understand the stress and uncertainty of facing criminal charges or dealing with the consequences of a past conviction. That is why we are committed to providing compassionate and personalized legal representation to every client we serve. We will work tirelessly to protect your rights and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.

Take action and secure the legal representation you need. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense and expungement attorneys.

Author Bio

Jose Headshot

Jose Gonzalez is an attorney at The Nieves Law Firm, having joined the firm in September of 2022. Jose is bilingual and assists both English and Spanish speakers who contact The Nieves Law Firm for legal assistance. He has previous experience working as a Public Defender in Northern California, which he credits with providing him ample experience in criminal defense law and helping to develop his skills in the courtroom.

Jose received his law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law with an emphasis on criminal justice and is a member of the State Bar of California. Prior to graduating law school, Jose interned with the Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP) and was able to exonerate an innocent person who spent over 15 years incarcerated.

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