Hello and thanks so much for choosing this forum to pose your important legal question. I will do my best to give you some honest and accurate guidance as I answer your question.
There is a split of opinion among those in the legal community about exactly what this means for those applying for a job and confronted with the question "have you ever been convicted of a crime?" Since the statute says "released from all penalties and disabilities," subject only to those exceptions specifically set forth in the statute, this author believes that the better reasoned view is that the legislature meant what it said, that "all penalties and disabilities" means just that, and if the legislature intended to say otherwise, they would have said so. Therefore, once an order for relief pursuant to § 1203.4 has been granted, the former-probationer can lawfully state that they have not been convicted of the crime when asked on a job application from a private (non-law enforcement) employer.
Those exceptions, where disclosure is required, are set out in the statute: "the order does not relieve him or her of the obligation to disclose the conviction in response to any direct question contained in any questionnaire or application for public office, for licensure by any state or local agency, or for contracting with the California State Lottery." This means that if applying for public office, seeking any license from the state (real estate, stock broker, doctor, lawyer, etc.), or contracting with the California State Lottery, the conviction must be disclosed (although it can be disclosed as an expunged conviction).
Now, boiling all of this down brings us to the botXXXXX XXXXXne as it pertains to your situation with firearms. Having looked at numerous appellate holdings interpreting the statutory language, I feel confident in saying that the Courts have consistently upheld the intent of the Legislature in enacting the provision. Specifically, what comes up to present an impediment is, as you know first-hand, this sentence: "Dismissal of an accusation or information pursuant to this section does not permit a person to own, possess, or have in his or hercustody or control any firearm or prevent his or her conviction underSection 12021."
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