Legal Question in Criminal Law in California


Thank you for advice.

I had a misdemeanor almost 20 years ago, the case was dismissed, in California.

I think legally, I can say "NO" when applying for and asked in job interviews or any general interviews or doctor's interview.

But when I'm under oath or on a witness stand or during deposition, what I do say if asked, was I ever committed a crime or been in jail (I was in jail for one night)? Can I plead the 5th (which obviously means I did it) or can I say, yes, case was dismissed without having to say the name of the crime ?

What do I say when under oath?

Thank you.

Asked on 4/29/13, 4:35 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless

"Dismissed" means you weren't convicted, so there is no case conviction to disclose. That is the only thing you could be asked.

If instead you mean you got it 'expunged', expungement does NOT ‘clear’, 'remove', ‘erase’ or ‘disappear’ the conviction. Nothing will. ‘Records are forever’. Expungement does change the record to show an arrest, charges filed, with 'conviction reversed and charges dismissed by expungement'. The conviction is still a 'prior' or 'strike' for purposes of repeat offenses. Expungement does not restore firearm rights lost because of felony conviction or restraining orders. That record is accessible in background checks. Expungement will help in obtaining employment. When applying for a job in the PRIVATE sector, in response to any question concerning your prior criminal record, you may ‘legally’ deny that you were arrested or convicted of the offense. However, you must disclose the arrest and conviction in any questionnaire or application for certification or licensing by any government agency [medical, legal, educational, professional, law enforcement, security clearances, bonding, etc], for public office, for a position as a peace officer, for contracting with the California State Lottery, or for purposes of serving on a jury. The licensing agency then will decide whether the nature of the past convictions and your record will bar you from licensing and employment in that field.

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Answered on 4/30/13, 2:53 pm

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