Proposed California Law Would Seal Criminal Records, Help Former Inmates Move On
Rap sheets can haunt a former inmate for years after they have served their time. Criminal convictions can make it more difficult to apply for jobs, obtain professional licensing, find housing, or secure a loan. A California lawmaker recently proposed a bill that aims to lessen this burden on former inmates in order to help them carry on with their lives as productive citizens. The new law would cause certain criminal records to be automatically sealed after the inmate completes their prison or jail sentence. Read on for details about California’s new bill pertaining to criminal records, and contact a dedicated Oxnard criminal defense attorney with any questions about how to deal with an arrest, criminal charge or record of conviction.
New California Bill would seal misdemeanor and lesser felony records from public view
Introduced by California Assemblymember Phil Ting of San Francisco and backed by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, AB 1076 aims to help low-level offenders find work, housing, and education. The bill would require the state of California to automatically seal convictions for low-level offenses from public view once the offender completes their prison or jail sentence. Current law allows certain offenders to apply to have their records sealed, pay a fee of up to $150, and wait for a judge to make a decision on whether to seal. Many people do not even know this is an option or how the process works. The proposed law would make this process automatic, sealing records for those who were arrested but not convicted as well as qualifying convicted offenders who have served their time. The law would apply retroactively, scrubbing state records for all Californians who currently have a criminal record. The records would still be available to law enforcement agencies, just not the general public.
The proposed law applies to all misdemeanor convictions, regardless of the age of the offender at the time of the offense, as long as at least one year has elapsed since the arrest . The proposed law also applies to certain lower-tier felony offenses, including burglary and drug offenses; offenses that yield only a jail term rather than a state prison sentence would generally qualify. The law does not apply to series felonies such as murder or rape. County prosecutors could contest the state’s decision to seal certain convictions in specific cases if they are worried about public safety.
The law, if passed, is expected to benefit millions of ex-offenders. The federal Department of Justice has reported that nearly one in three Americans has a criminal record, and as many as eight million Californians.