Retention of California court files (PDF)
These are excerpts from the statute. Read the PDF for the complete relevant law.
GOVERNMENT CODE – GOV
TITLE 8. THE ORGANIZATION AND GOVERNMENT OF COURTS [68070 ? 77655] ( Title 8 added by Stats. 1953, Ch. 206. )
CHAPTER 1.4. Management of Trial Court Records [68150 – 68153] ( Chapter 1.4 added by Stats. 1994, Ch. 1030, Sec. 1. )
(c) Criminal actions and proceedings, as follows:
(2) Felony, except as otherwise specified, and in any felony or misdemeanor case
resulting in a requirement that the defendant register as a sex offender under
Section 290 of the Penal Code: retain judgment permanently. For all other
documents: retain for 50 years or the maximum term of the sentence, whichever is
longer. However, any record other than the judgment may be destroyed 10 years
after the death of the defendant. Felony case files that do not include final
sentencing or other final disposition because the case was bound over from a
former municipal court to the superior court and not already consolidated with the
superior court felony case file: retain for 10 years from the disposition of the
superior court case.
(4) Felony, if the charge is dismissed, except as provided in paragraph (6): retain
for three years.
(5) Misdemeanor, if the charge is dismissed, except as provided in paragraph (6):
retain for one year.
(6) Dismissal under Section 1203.4 or 1203.4a of the Penal Code: retain for the
same retention period as for records of the underlying case. If the records in the
underlying case have been destroyed, retain for five years after dismissal.