Can I Get My California Sex Crimes Conviction Removed From My Record?

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Having a conviction on your criminal record can make your life very difficult.

Criminal convictions can make it challenging to get a good job, further your education, or live where you desire.

Convictions for sex crimes increase these difficulties and can have lifetime ramifications.

As a result, you might wonder: Can a sex crime conviction be dismissed?

If you have a conviction on your record for a sex crime, you should seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

We take your future seriously at the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC.

Our dedicated criminal defense specialist Kerry Armstrong and his team can work with you to minimize the damage a sex crime has on your future. Contact us today to get started. 

Can I Get A Sex Crime Dismissed?

Dealing with the aftermath of a sex crime conviction is difficult.

You might have served time behind bars, faced strict terms of probation, registered as a sex offender, gone to court-ordered counseling, and had the court monitor your whereabouts.

Now that you have paid your dues and want to reintegrate into society, your conviction is holding you back. What can you do?

You should first understand that getting any conviction dismissed in California is complex.

Despite numerous criminal justice reforms, California remains reluctant to grant relief to people convicted of sex crimes. 

California Penal Code §1203.4 allows individuals charged with certain offenses an opportunity to have their case dismissed.

According to Penal Code section 1203.4, a judge can allow a person to retract a guilty or nolo contendere plea and enter a plea of not guilty—or the court can enter a finding of not guilty if the case went to trial.

The court then dismisses the case in its entirety. 

How Does the Process Work?

Penal Code section 1203.4 places strict conditions on who can apply to have the court dismiss their case.

You can apply if you:

  • Completed the entire term of probation without any difficulty,
  • Received a discharge from probation by the court before the probation period elapsed, 
  • Have no new charges pending against you,
  • Are not serving a sentence, and 
  • Are not on probation for any offense.

The prosecutor has a right to object but can waive the objection by failing to respond on time. 

You will have many of your rights and privileges restored if the judge dismisses your case under Penal Code section 1203.4.

However, the statute does not restore your right to possess a firearm.   

Additionally, the law states that the prosecutor could use the dismissed charge against you if you commit another crime.

And the law states that you must disclose this conviction if you apply for a public office, professional license, or a job with the state lottery system.  

You should understand that a dismissed conviction does not go away entirely in California.

While some people call this dismissal process an “expungement,” the California Legislature actually stopped using that term years ago because the dismissal process is not technically an expungement. 

The court does not destroy your case file in California upon the granting of a dismissal, unlike in many other states.

However, the final disposition of your case states that you are not guilty, and the case is dismissed. 

Does a Sex Crime Stay on Your Criminal Record?

Penal Code section 1203.4 does not apply to every criminal offense. So the question remains: Can a sex crime conviction be dismissed?

Although you may petition the court to dismiss your misdemeanor sex offense conviction, the statute excludes most felony sex crimes. 

Specially, you cannot ask a court to dismiss convictions involving any of the following crimes:

  • Unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor under 16 by an individual over 21 (Penal Code section 261.5(d));
  • Lewd and lascivious acts with a minor (Penal Code section 288);
  • Oral copulation with a minor (Penal Code section 288a(c));
  • Sodomy with a minor (Penal Code section 286(c));
  • Showing obscene literature to a minor (Penal Code section 288.2);
  • Continuous sexual abuse of a child (Penal Code section 288.5);
  • Forcible sexual penetration with a minor under the age of 14 (Penal Code section 289(j)); and
  • Child pornography (Penal Code section 311).

You should talk to a qualified California criminal defense lawyer about your options if you have a conviction for any offense listed here.

You might have a chance to throw out your conviction on other grounds even if you do not qualify for expungement under Penal Code section 1203.4.

Where Should You Turn for More Information

Criminal defense specialist Kerry L. Armstrong and his team have over forty years of experience fighting for the rights of people like you.

We have handled numerous sex cases in San Diego and Southern California. We can work with you to develop a winning strategy.

Call our office today at 619-439-0912 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation with one of our award-winning attorneys.

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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