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Criminal charges typically fall into one of two categories: felonies and misdemeanors.

When people think of serious criminal charges, their thoughts often revolve around felony offenses like aggravated assault, homicide, and sexual assault.

In fact, a misdemeanor offense can possibly upend your life almost as much as a felony.

If someone is facing a misdemeanor conviction in California, they typically want to know:

  • How long does a misdemeanor stay on your record?
  • Can I get a misdemeanor conviction off my record?
  • Will I face any jail time for a misdemeanor conviction?

The answers to these questions will hinge on the circumstances of your case.

The criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, have extensive experience representing clients facing misdemeanor charges.

We will listen to the facts of your case and formulate a strategy to try and help you avoid a conviction. Contact our office today to schedule your free initial consultation.

How Long Does a Misdemeanor Stay on Your Record?

A misdemeanor conviction will remain on your criminal record permanently unless you receive a dismissal (sometimes erroneously called an “expungement”), or a governor’s pardon.

There is no time limit that passes and makes your misdemeanor fall off your record. However, that does not mean getting a misdemeanor conviction off your record is impossible.

In many cases, you can seek dismissal to remove the offense from your record.

Misdemeanors in California

Common criminal offenses in California that can result in a misdemeanor charge include:

  • Driving under the influence,
  • Possession of a small amount of narcotics,
  • Simple assault, or
  • Trespassing.

There are many other offenses that can lead to a misdemeanor charge. Some offenses are called “wobblers,” meaning they can qualify as a felony but can become a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Many variables come into play in making a designation of misdemeanor or felony, so it’s best to talk to a defense attorney to get an accurate picture of your situation.

Can I Get a Misdemeanor Dismissed?

In California, a dismissal under Penal Code section 1203.4 releases you from most penalties and disabilities arising from your conviction.

Once a conviction is dismissed, you do not have to disclose the conviction to an employer, even after you receive a conditional offer of employment.

You can qualify for dismissal in California only if you successfully completed your probation sentence and either:

  • Did not serve state prison time for your conviction; or
  • Served time in state prison but would have served in jail if the crime had been committed prior to the implementation of “realignment” under Proposition 47.

Additionally, certain factors disqualify you from seeking a dismissal. You cannot seek a dismissal if you are currently facing a criminal charge, are on probation, or are serving a sentence for another criminal offense.

Contact a California Criminal Defense Lawyer Today For Help Getting a Misdemeanor Off Your Record

A misdemeanor charge can impact your life in numerous ways. It can cause difficulty finding job opportunities, affect your individual rights, and cost you a significant amount of money.

Whether you need help avoiding a conviction or obtaining a dismissal, our team of criminal defense lawyers is here to help.

The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC will put our knowledge and experience in the criminal justice system to work for you and determine the best resolution.

Contact our office today, so we can start reviewing your case.

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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