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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. 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?
Not all records can be expunged. Dismissal of convictions is generally granted to misdemeanors -- or felonies that could have been tried as misdemeanors -- that resulted in a stay at a county jail, probation, a fine, or a combination of these things.
Additionally, there are convictions that absolutely cannot be expunged. Primarily, these crimes involve the 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 under certain circumstances. You can seek legal advice to determine your eligibility for expungement, as there are many lawyers in the area who specialize in “restorative justice.” If you do, here are some helpful questions to ask yourself 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 are 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?
You may still qualify for Prop 47 record reclassification. Click here to learn more.
If the previous steps do not apply 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. This will give you a good idea of whether you qualify for expungement.
County of Alameda Clerk-Records Main Office
Location:1106 Madison Street Oakland, CA 94607
Hours: M-F: 8:30 am-4:30 pm
*Records in Alameda cannot be accessed over the phone, but an application portal is available for online services.
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 ‘Clear My Record,’ a free service provided by the non-profit organization Code for America that may be able to help Alameda County residents reduce or dismiss their criminal records. The tool will ask for information about your record as well as your current residential and employment information in an effort to better understand your eligibility for expungement or dismissal.
This service is available at www.clearmyrecord.codeforamerica.org
From there, your application will be reviewed by a public defender to determine whether an expungement or dismissal may be possible.
You can also accomplish this by calling the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office at (510) 272-6200 and scheduling a walk-in clinic to deliver your records through their “Clean Slate” program, available at http://www.co.alameda.ca.us/defender/services/cleanslate.htm
Either way, a Public Defender may contact you for information about the next steps.
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.
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.
Goodwill Career Services: http://sfgoodwill.org/career-services/ (415) 575-2101
America Works: http://www.americaworks.com/ (510) 891-9100
Careeronestop: http://www.careeronestop.org/ExOffender/index.aspx (877) 872-5627
East Bay Works: http://www.eastbayworks.com/job-seekers/ (510) 670-5700
Salvation Army of Alameda County: http://www.alamedasalarmy.org/alameda_county/home
Rubicon Programs: http://rubiconprograms.org/
Bay Area Legal Aid: https://www.baylegal.org/ (510) 663-4755
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights: https://lawyerscommittee.org/ (202) 662-8600