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Last Updated 9/2/2016
What Can I Do About My Criminal Record?
Criminal records can be a big barrier to overcome in seeking employment. But the good news is that there are steps you can take to clean up your record and get a clean slate.
This guide is designed to help you learn all about the process of dismissing prior convictions on your record, also known as expungement or dismissal. This might not work in all cases or for all crimes, but it could give you an opportunity to start fresh.
Do I Qualify for Expungement or Dismissal?
As previously mentioned, not all records can be expunged or dismissed, although they are treated the same in the state of California. Expungement or dismissal of convictions are generally granted to misdemeanors -- or felonies that could have been tried as misdemeanors -- that resulted in a stay at county jail, probation, a fine or a combination of these things.
Additionally, there are convictions that absolutely cannot be expunged or dismissed. Primarily, these crimes involve sexual assault of a minor, the concealment of sexual assault of a minor, or child pornography. But certain felony offenses for refusing vehicle inspection, evading an officer or resisting arrest can also be excluded from expungement or dismissal under certain circumstances.
You should seek legal advice to determine your eligibility for expungement or dismissal, as there are many lawyers in the area who specialize in “restorative justice.” If you do, here are some helpful questions to ask yourself in order to prepare:
- What is your case number — sometimes called “docket number”?
- What was your date of conviction — which is the date of your plea, verdict, or finding of guilt?
- What is the code name and section number you were convicted of violating?
- Was there a verdict or did you enter a plea? If you entered a plea, was it “guilty” or “no contest” (also called “nolo contendere”)?
- Were you ordered to serve any time on probation (either formal or informal probation, since they are treated the same in your record)? If so, for how long?
- Were you ordered to pay any fines, restitution, or reimbursement?
- If you were sentenced to state prison, which one?
- If you were sentenced to state prison, on what date were you released?
- If you were released on parole, on what date?
Knowledge is power. The more you understand the circumstances of your conviction, the better you will be able to explain to advocates exactly how to help you.
You may still qualify for Prop 47 record reclassification. Click here to learn more.
If the previous steps are not applicable to your record, other resources are available. Scroll to the bottom.
How to Obtain and Expunge Your Record
Step 1: Obtain Your Record
There are certain steps you can take to expunge your record, but first you need to actually obtain your criminal record or “RAP sheet.” This will give you a good idea of whether you qualify for expungement. You can obtain your record in two ways:
If you know the case number
If you do not know the case number
1) Submit a written request along with a check with the words "Not To Exceed $35.00.”
2) Make check or money order payable to:"Sacramento Superior Court"
3) Mail to:
Sacramento Superior Court
720 9th Street, Room 101
Sacramento, CA 95814
Attention: Criminal Correspondence Unit.
*You will be notified (by mail or phone) should the cost exceed $35.00. Make sure your phone number is on the check.
Also available by phone at 916-874-8881. The court will not provide research, nor confirm or deny dates of birth, social security numbers over the phone.
1) Use public access site or submit a written request for a Criminal Background Research.
2) Provide specific name, date of birth, social security number, driver's license number for request.
Cost per page: $.50 Certification: $25.00 Exemplification: $50.00 Extended record search:$15.00 Court order document authentication (per signature): $15.00 Original file comparison comparison copy(per page): $1.00
If the appropriate fees are not attached or your requested information is incomplete, the request will be returned to you.
**Note: If your case date is before 1989, you can use the public microfiche located in the Criminal Records Unit at the Gordon D. Schaber Sacramento County Courthouse or contact the California Department of Justice.
Step 2: Check Your Record
Now that you have your record, you can see whether there are aspects that qualify for expungement or dismissal. One of the easiest ways to do so is using The Volunteer Legal Service Program, that may be able to help Sacramento County residents reduce or dismiss their criminal records.
Step 3: Be Patient
Unfortunately, expungement or dismissal is not an efficient process. If you are eligible, be prepared to wait 3-4 months for expungement or dismissal to occur and show up on your record.
In the meantime, there are other resources you can access to aide you in the meantime. Here are a few to consider:
National Hire Network: http://hirenetwork.org/content/california
Northern California Construction training: http://www.ncct.ws/, Phone: 916-387-1564
GoodWill: https://www.goodwillsacto.org/, Phone: 916-395-9000
Sacramento County Public Defender’s Office: http://www.publicdefender.saccounty.net/Pages/ClearingaCriminalRecord.aspx
Voluntary Legal Service Program: http://www.vlsp.org/criminal.asp