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Benefits of Obtaining a Dismissal

In this series about cleaning up your criminal record in California, we have covered details about what a criminal record really means, how to obtain your own criminal history record, how to have your records dismissed or sealed and destroyed, and options for getting your convictions dismissed entirely. Now let’s see how a dismissal can help you.

Can a dismissal help you get a job or a license?

Depending on whether an employer is private or public, having your records dismissed can make a big difference.

Private employers 

Based on California law, private employers cannot ask applicants about dismissed criminal offenses. California law states that it is unlawful for an employer to inquire or seek information about an applicant concerning:

  • Arrests that did not result in a conviction.
  • Convictions that have been ordered sealed, expunged, or statutorily eradicated.
  • Cases dismissed under Penal Code § 1203.4.
  • Arrests in which a pre-trial diversion program was successfully completed.1

A private employer can only legally ask you if have you ever been convicted of a crime and if are you out on bail or your own recognizance regarding a recent arrest.

Public employers

The law is slightly different when applying for government employment, license, or certification, though the level of information the agency is allowed to consider depends on the job. State and local governments are authorized to require applicants submit their fingerprints in order to receive state and federal criminal history information.2

As a result, government employers can see every conviction rendered against you; even those that have been dismissed.3 If a government employer asks if you have ever been convicted of a crime and the charge was dismissed, you must respond “yes, conviction dismissed.” However, dismissed convictions cannot be considered for employment.4

Note that applications for government licensure often require you to list all misdemeanor or felony convictions, even those that have been dismissed or expunged. If asked in this way, include all your convictions. Government licensing agencies are allowed to consider all convictions to determine whether they are substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the applicant. Failure to disclose this information will likely be viewed as an attempt to misrepresent or deceive the agency, which may be considered worse conduct than the underlying conviction.

If you would like to discuss dismissal or other ways to clean up your criminal record, contact me at (530) 823-5400.

  1. Labor Code § 432.7(a); Cal. Code of Regs. § 7287.4(d)
  2. See Business and Professions Code § 480
  3. Penal Code § 11105
  4. Labor Code § 432.7(a)
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