How Long Does a Misdemeanor Stay on Your Record in California?
If you do not take action, then the misdemeanor will stay on your criminal record forever. But, you can apply for your criminal convictions to be expunged and remove them from your criminal record. This will hide your criminal record from the public and minimize the effect it has on your life.
How Will a Misdemeanor Conviction Affect My Life?
A misdemeanor on your criminal record can affect your life in many ways. It may affect your ability to get a job or find a place to live. Depending on the crime, you may also struggle to maintain your personal relationships. Friends and family relationships may suffer, and it may affect your standing in the community.
Recent changes to California legislation makes it illegal for employers to research prior convictions and discriminate against you based on any prior convictions. An employer must make a conditional offer of employment before they can ask about criminal conditions. They also cannot revoke the offer unless the crime affects the ability to do the job. For example, a conviction for crimes against children for a job that brings you into contact with children.
The process for removing a conviction from a criminal record is called expungement. In California misdemeanors with county jail sentences or probation are eligible for expungement as long as you have completed your sentence. In order to apply for expungement, you must apply for a Penal Code Section 1203.4 Judicial Dismissal.
The following misdemeanors are not eligible for Judicial Dismissal:
- If the person served time in state prison for their crime
- If the person is currently serving time or probation for a criminal offense
- If the crime was a sex crime against children
You can get multiple misdemeanors expunged from your criminal record, but you need to apply for a Judicial Dismissal for each individual conviction. The court makes a decision on each individual misdemeanor.
California’s Misdemeanor Expungement Process
In order to have your criminal record expunged, you need to petition the court to remove the charge from your criminal record. This is a process that you can handle yourself, or you can hire an attorney to ensure all the forms are filled out correctly and filed. The court will review your petition and either approve or deny your request.
If they approve the application for Judicial Dismissal, then the misdemeanor convictions will be removed from your publicly accessible criminal record. It will only be visible to the courts and law enforcement. Your expunged misdemeanor convictions will not appear on background or employment checks, and you do not have to declare them on job or tenant application forms.