How to Expunge your California criminal record

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In California, Superior Court judges have the power to decide whether people convicted of crimes deserve to have their criminal record expunged. To begin the process, the convicted party needs to pull together documents regarding their petition for expungement, and submit the paperwork to the court that convicted them. However, expungement isn't an automatic or guaranteed process; it's up to a judge to analyze the case and decide whether or not the convicted party deserves to have his conviction or convictions erased.

Obtain and review the paperwork relating to your criminal record. At the time of your conviction, copies of documents relating to your conviction should have been provided to you; if you can't locate them, you should be able to obtain them from your attorney if you retained one while your case was open. If not, call or write the clerk's office at the California Superior Court where you were convicted to make arrangements to get copies of your criminal record.

Find out whether or not your record is eligible to be expunged; not all misdemeanors or felonies are eligible to be erased in California. To be eligible, you must have either successfully completed probation or been granted an early release from probation by the court. Additionally, you must have fully paid any court-mandated fines associated with your conviction and you can't be charged with or convicted of any other crimes.

Contact the court to ask for an early release from probation, if necessary. Do this by filling out a PC 1203.3 petition form, and filing it with the court clerk, along with a letter stating why you deserve to be released from probation early. The PC 1203.3 form can be downloaded from California's official courts website ( or obtained from any state Superior Court clerk's office.

Fill out and submit to the court a Form CR-180, or Petition for Dismissal, if you've finished probation or have been granted an early release from it. Return the form, with any other supporting documentation, to the Superior Court where you were convicted.

Testify before a judge, if necessary. Depending on the judge, Superior Court branch and type of crime committed, you may be required to stand before a judge and tell why you deserve to have your California criminal record expunged. If you file your paperwork and receive a notice in the mail to appear before a judge, show up at the appointed time and date given to you and state your case.


About the Author

Mark Nero has been a professional journalist since 1995 and has written for numerous publications within and outside the U.S. His work has appeared in "The Boston Globe," "San Diego Union-Tribune" and "Los Angeles Daily News" among others. Nero studied communications at San Diego State University.

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