How Long Does a Domestic Violence Charge Stay on Your Record?

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Domestic violence casts a long shadow, affecting people’s lives and leaving indelible marks on their records and futures. If you or a loved one is facing the difficult reality of a domestic violence charge, it is vital to understand the legal ramifications, the impact, and how to navigate the path to a clean slate.

The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, explains the legal complexities and the long-term consequences of domestic violence charges and convictions. If you have questions, contact us today.

How a Domestic Violence Charge Affects Your Life In San Diego County, Regardless of the Outcome.

Accusations Alone Can Cause Damage

Being accused of domestic violence is a serious matter that can damage your reputation, relationships, and opportunities. The accusation can haunt you for years, even if the charges are dropped instead of being prosecuted.

Arrest reports and court records can resurface anytime, causing you embarrassment and inconvenience. You may face social stigma and mistrust from your family, friends, and employers. The accusation can also affect your emotional well-being, making you feel anxious, ashamed, or angry.

Aftermath of Convictions

Being convicted of domestic violence is even worse, and can harm your life in many ways. You may face harsh penalties such as fines, jail or prison time, probation, and restraining orders. For misdemeanors, you could serve up to a year in jail or be put on probation for up to five years.

With misdemeanor domestic violence probation, you will have to take domestic violence classes, lose your gun rights, be made to stay away from the victim, and you might have to do community service and pay hefty fines and fees. 

For a felony conviction, you could serve up to six years in state prison, along with all the other penalties outlined above. And if you have any criminal history, especially a history of domestic violence, the penalties are typically on the higher side of the spectrum.

Convictions can result in you losing your job, your housing, your custody rights, and your civil rights. You may have a permanent criminal record that limits your future options and opportunities, which can further result in psychological trauma, depression, isolation, and low self-esteem. 

But there is hope. Your attorney can help you determine if getting your case dismissed or expunged is a viable option.

How Long Does a Domestic Violence Charge Stay on Your Record in California?

When you get arrested for domestic violence, or any other criminal charge, the arrest record remains even if the case gets dropped. In other words, law-enforcement or the prosecutor’s office does not automatically take the arrest off your record regardless of how the case resolves.

How long a domestic violence charge stays on your record varies depending on the specific circumstances of your case and whether your charge results in a conviction or dismissal.

How Long Does a Dropped Domestic Violence Charge Stay on Your Record?

If your case is dropped and you never get convicted, the record of the arrest is still on your criminal record for life—unless and until you file a petition pursuant to the California Penal Code section 851.91.

If you meet all the requirements and the judge grants your request, they can seal your record. However, bear in mind that these records are not entirely eliminated and can still be seen by some government agencies.

How Long Does a Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Conviction Stay on Your Record?

Just like a dropped case, a misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence will stay on your record for life, unless you file a petition under California Penal Code section 1203.4. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you will be eligible for a dismissal upon successful completion of probation.

But you must meet some requirements. Before granting your request, the judge will consider multiple factors. These considerations include whether you violated your probation in this case repeatedly, committed other crimes after this charge, and if you are currently on probation for a different offense. 

How Long Does a Felony Domestic Violence Conviction Stay on Your Record?

felony domestic violence conviction can have lifelong ramifications because it is permanently on your record unless you obtain a dismissal pursuant to Penal Code section 1203.4. 

While rare, the Governor of California can grant a pardon for a felony conviction, essentially wiping it clean. However, obtaining a pardon for a felony domestic violence conviction in San Diego County can be a challenging and lengthy process. It typically requires demonstrating significant rehabilitation and good conduct since the conviction and strong evidence of remorse and positive contributions to society.

It is important to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney in San Diego County who is knowledgeable about criminal record expungement to navigate this complex legal process.

What Is the Difference Between Sealing or Dismissing Your Record?

Sealing Your Record

Sealing restricts access to your criminal record, effectively making it invisible to all but law enforcement for specific purposes.

Your record is still there, but it is hidden or inaccessible to schools, landlords, and most employers. But remember that record sealing is available in California only if your case was dropped and you did not get convicted.

Dismissal Pursuant to Penal Code section 1203.4

A dismissal under Penal Code section 1203.4 is a legal process that allows certain convictions to be removed from your record. But understand that—even though a dismissal implies that your record is erased—that is not what the term means in California.

Here, it means that the court goes back and enters a dismissal for your case. Therefore, if anyone sees your background check, they will see that the case was dismissed. And the case is hidden from some private employers, landlords, and the like.

Is a Domestic Violence Charge Haunting You? We Can Help.

Struggling with the aftermath of domestic violence charges, even if you were cleared? You’re not alone. California’s legal system can seem daunting, options for cleaning your record are unclear, and the emotional burden can feel overwhelming.

In this chaos, you need a proven San Diego defense attorney who understands California law and fights for your brighter tomorrow.

The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, is your secret weapon. Our seasoned attorneys focus on domestic violence cases, offering unwavering support and relentless legal expertise. We’ve navigated countless domestic violence cases in San Diego County, giving you an edge in this legal labyrinth.

Don’t let the past define your future. Contact The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, today for a free consultation. 

Where You Can Find Our San Diego, CA Office

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.