Government Forgiveness of Past Crimes

Introduction: Many people think after being convicted of a crime that it will destroy your life. In many ways it does. However, in the United States there is a way to wipe out many past crimes. Read below to see how this is done.

Question: Dear Mr. Cheng – I was previously convicted of a crime. I got a DUI, convicted and given probation. I was also arrested for theft but that did not result in a conviction. Everywhere I apply to they always ask whether I have been arrested before. Every time I tell them of my previous DUI and arrest for theft they never hire me. I am a changed man. I know you were a former prosecutor before. Is there a way to erase my records? Richard – San Gabriel

Answer: Dear Richard, before I address the issue I want you to know that for the arrest for theft never needs to be disclosed. Under Labor Code 432.7, employers generally cannot ask about arrests or detentions that did not result in conviction. A violation of this section gives damages to the potential employee. Unlike other countries, if you are convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony and are not sentenced to state prison or under the authority of the California Department of Corrections, you can petition for a dismissal. (This means you were given county jail time, probation, a fine, or a combination of those three). If you are petitioning for a dismissal, the court upon proper motion may withdraw your guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) plea, or verdict of guilt if you went to trial, and enter a not guilty plea. Then the court will set aside and dismiss the conviction. From that point forward, you are considered no longer convicted of the offense. Your record will be changed to show a dismissal rather than a conviction. If you were convicted of a felony and done with your jail time in county jail, file a petition to have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor and have the conviction dismissed. There are several exceptions. Those include mostly sex crimes. Under most circumstances, private employers cannot ask about any convictions dismissed. Using Labor Code 432.7, because your conviction is dismissed, you do not have to report it. However, if you are applying for a government job, you must respond when asked about prior convictions, “YES-CONVICTION DISMISSED.” In California however, government employers will treat you the same as if you have never been convicted of a crime. Licensing agencies will treat you as if you have never been convicted of a crime. Note that dismissed convictions cannot do the following. Dismissed convictions can still affect your driving privileges. A dismissed conviction can still be used against you in Court. A dismissed conviction will still require you to register as a sex offender.

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