In the event you want to "clear" your record, in most instances the only relief that's available to you is a "record clearance" or "expungement" pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.4 (1203.4a for infractions). There are other similar types of relief, such as a petition to seal an arrest record, or a petition for a certificate of rehabilitation, or even a governor's pardon. But the latter are far more difficult to obtain and in most cases you're probably not technically eligible for such relief.
So, if a record clearance is your only viable alternative, how do you obtain it? First of all, you must be eligible. Most crimes, but not all, are eligible. And you must no longer be on probation for the underlying offense - or any other offense, for that matter. Also, you should have successfully completed all of the terms of your probation. If you were never given probation, one year must have elapsed since your conviction. And outstanding fines or fees must have been paid in full.
If you're eligible, the next step is to file the required form and pay the $150.00 filing fee ($60.00 for infractions). You can do this without the assistance of a lawyer, but in most cases it will take much longer to get a decision. A record clearance will be granted for most crimes, but not all. A "dui" conviction, for example, can be expunged, but it's discretionary with the judge which means it can be denied and in such cases you'll have to retain an attorney to persuade the court that it should be granted.
If you're seeking "discretionary" relief, or even if you have not completed your entire term of probation, you should consider retaining an experienced attorney to both petition the court to terminate probation early and grant your record clearance in an expedited fashion - in most cases within 45 days.
In my next blog post, I will explain what it means once you actually obtain a record clearance.