The purpose and function of an expungement (Penal Code Sections 1203.4, 1203.4a, and 1203.41) is probably one of the most confusing post-conviction issues in criminal law -- especially how private employers treat the information.  Many private employers, even today, continue to ask questions on their employment application forms which may be illegal, and might subject them to being sued.

With very few exceptions, the expungement process is strictly limited to the relief authorized by the Legislature.  Recognizing that good people make mistakes, the expungement process is designed to provide some measure of post-conviction relief.

California Labor Code sections 432.7 and 432.8, and regulations adopted by California [e.g., Code of Regulations Title 2, Section 7287.4, subd. (d)] are intended to protect persons granted an expungement from potentially embarrassing questions posed by many employers.  In safeguarding your constitutional and statutory rights, it is critical that you understand the laws and regulations that may apply to an expungement granted by the court.

Although an expungement does NOT erase an actual conviction from your adult criminal record, it may (1) assist you in getting a state, county or local license or certificate that is required for you to engage in certain careers or professions, (2) provide you with a right to deny the existence of a prior arrest or conviction when asked by a private employer, and (3) assist you with obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation or Pardon from the Governor.