Fri. Jul 12th, 2024

CALIFORNIA’S CLEAN SLATE LAW

Suppose you seek to get your arrest record sealed or your conviction dismissed. In that case, it might be possible under California’s Clean Slate Act, which allows people to move on with their lives.

Senate Bill 731 made essential changes to the Clean Slate Act, AB 1076, which gives you a second chance and is often called a record-sealing law. SB 731 passed in September 2022 and went into effect on January 1, 2023.

California's Clean Slate Law

Senate Bill 731 allows most felony convictions to be automatically cleared after four years.

California’s Clean Slate Act (AB 1076 or Penal Code 1076 PC) automatically seals some arrest records and dismisses certain criminal convictions. It was signed into law in October 2019 by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Starting on January 1, 2021, anyone who qualifies for relief does not need to do anything to clear their records. Prior to this law, you were required to file a petition in court and proceed through a hearing to seal records or dismiss or expunge their convictions.  You also had to pay court and attorney fees.

AB 1076 has been replaced by SB 731 and SB 1260. These two new laws have expanded the old clean slate law to cover more people and situations.

The Clean Slate Law now applies to convictions and arrests after January 1, 1973, not just those after January 1, 2021. Further, automatic relief is now available for certain felony crimes, even if they result in a state prison sentence.

Prior to SB 1260, you could still have certain felony convictions dismissed, but not if you were sentenced to state prison. This means that if you completed your prison term, you could get the records sealed or expunged if four years have passed and you have not re-offended.

Simply put, under California Senate Bill 731, most state felony convictions are automatically sealed from your criminal record four years after the case ends. All felony records that did not lead to charges get automatically sealed after three years.  Also, you cannot be denied teaching credentials for an expunged drug possession conviction older than five years.

SENATE BILL 731 – QUICK FACTS

There are some essential facts you should know about California Senate Bill 731, such as the following:

  • Senate Bill 731 (SB 731) and Assembly Bill 1076 (AB 1076) are the main California Clean Slate laws.
  • SB 731 is an aggressive criminal justice reform policy.
  • If arrested but not convicted, your records will be sealed automatically.
  • It’s designed to reduce the long-term consequences of criminal convictions.
  • Most state felony convictions will get automatically sealed from your criminal record four years after the case ends.
  • All felony arrest records that did not lead to charges will be sealed after three years but do not apply to serious, violent, or sex offenders.
  • Misdemeanors are sealed after one year if there are no new charges.
  • You can withdraw your guilty or no contest plea for most felony convictions and get the case dismissed under certain conditions.
  • Cases that are dismissed will be cleared immediately.
  • Convictions with probation will be cleared when the case closes.
  • You no longer must file a motion to seal or expunge your record.
  • It allows for automatic relief of felony convictions even if incarcerated.
  • Having a record sealed means the arrest is deemed never to have occurred.
  • It will help people find housing prospects and jobs.
  • This new relief does not restore gun rights.

The California Department of Justice will examine the state criminal justice database monthly and clear all records eligible for relief.

WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CLEAN SLATE LAWS?

The “Clean Slate” laws automate the record-sealing process for eligible people, a progressive move toward rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

A criminal conviction typically follows someone long after they have completed their sentence and negatively impacts employment prospects and housing applications.

With automatically sealing eligible criminal records, convictions will no longer appear on background searches. It’s designed to help people who have changed their lives and reduce recidivism rates.

However, the automatic record relief process can be delayed if you pick up new criminal cases. Suppose your criminal record is not eligible for automatic relief. In that case, you might still get relief by filing a petition to seal or expunge.

WHAT IS ASSEMBLY BILL 1076?

AB 1076 started the clean slate process by providing for the automatic sealing and effective expungement of all misdemeanors, non-violent felonies, and non-sex offenses that didn’t result in incarceration once defendants completed their probation or diversionary programs.

It allows the automatic sealing of arrest records that did not result in a conviction. Many people impacted by this law were already eligible to have their records sealed upon petitioning the government. Simply put, AB 1076 made these expungements automatic but excludes anyone convicted of violent or serious felonies, sex offenders, and domestic violence.

WHAT IS SENATE BILL 731?

SB 731 builds upon AB 1076 by extending automatic expungement to misdemeanor, non-violent felonies, and non-sex offenses resulting in incarceration if the defendant served their time and did not commit any new crimes.

It extends automatic sealing to many domestic violence cases and makes many people automatically eligible to have their records sealed.

HOW DO THE CLEAN SLATE LAWS WORK?

Anyone charged and convicted of eligible offenses can have their criminal records automatically sealed if specific criteria have been met, such as the following:

Misdemeanors

  • Arrests with no charges will be immediate,
  • Arrests with no conviction will be after the case is dismissed,
  • Misdemeanor probation will be after successful completion,
  • Misdemeanors with jail time will be released for one year if no new arrests exist.

Eligible Felonies 

  • Arrests with no charges will be three years after the arrest,
  • Arrests with no conviction will be immediate upon dismissal,
  • Felony probation will be after successful completion,
  • Felonies with prison time will be four years after release if no new arrests exist.

There are differences between having a criminal record sealed or expunged, but they have the same effect.

Suppose a record is expunged. In that case, it is destroyed and removed from all records as if the crime never occurred. On the other hand, with record sealing, the criminal record will still exist in some restricted databases, but they are removed from all public-facing records, such as criminal background checks.

If you are convicted of a crime, having it dismissed means that court records and your state criminal history will be updated to note the case was “dismissed.”

WHAT CRIMES ARE INELIGIBLE?

Under the Clean Slate laws, some crimes are not eligible for sealing, such as the following:

  • Serious or violent felonies,
  • Penal Code 187 PC murder,
  • Penal Code 211 PC robbery,
  • Penal Code 245(a)(1) assault with a deadly weapon,
  • Crimes requiring registration as a sex offender in California.

If you need help getting your arrest record sealed under Penal Code 851.87 PC, contact our law firm to review the case details and options. Cron, Israels & Stark is based in Los Angeles, CA.

Related Content:

  • Sealing an Arrest Record
  • Sealing Juvenile Records
  • California Senate Bill 731
  • California Assembly Bill 1076
  • California Penal Code 1203.4 PC
  • California Penal Code 851.91 PC
  • California Civil Code 1786.18

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SB 731 passed in September 2022 and went into effect on January 1, 2023.

How does 731 help you if you were arrested or convicted?

If you are arrested but not convicted, 731 “seals” your records automatically.

If you were convicted, 731 “dismisses” that conviction after fulfilling certain criteria.

Both of these actions help to clear your record.

What does it mean to have a record sealed in California?

Having a record sealed means that the arrest is deemed, under the law, to never have occurred. It also means you may truthfully answer “no” when asked, “Have you ever been arrested” except if you’re applying to be a peace officer.

Your arrest should not appear on any publicly available background check. The only people who could see the arrest would be the courts, law enforcement officers, and the DA.

In short, it erases any potential future consequences for a mere arrest.

What does it mean to have a conviction dismissed in California?

If you are convicted of a crime, having that crime dismissed means that court records and your state criminal history will be updated to note the case was “dismissed.”

In general, it means most private employers can neither ask you about the conviction nor consider it when hiring you. A private employer who runs a background check shouldn’t see your conviction on a standard background check, though if they decided to check the court’s website or go to the courthouse, they could find the record. They’d still also see that it had been dismissed.

In fact, you can truthfully answer “no” to “have you ever been convicted” on most job applications unless you are:

• Applying to be a peace officer
• Applying to be an in-home healthcare provider
• Applying to work for the state lottery commission
• Running for public office

If asked directly about your conviction, you can explain you successfully completed the terms of your sentence or probation and the charges were dismissed. Most of the time, it shouldn’t come up.

In this context, it means you’ve completed the terms of your probation and conviction.

Will my expunged record show up on a background check in California?

No. “Expunged” is a term that people often use, but it’s not a legal term in California. The Clean Slate law allows you to seal arrest records and dismiss convictions.

After your records are sealed or your conviction dismissed, private background check companies should not show arrests or dismissed criminal convictions.

There are exceptions. If you are applying to work in law enforcement, offering home support services, contracting with the state lottery commission, or running for public office, you’ll be asked directly in the application, and you will need to answer “yes,” as the record will continue to be available.

In addition, you may be required to disclose the conviction when applying for certain professional licenses.

Do I have to disclose a sealed arrest in California?

No, except if you’re applying to be a peace officer.

Do I have to disclose an expunged conviction in California?

No, except in some cases.

If you are applying to be a peace officer, are running for public office, are a home support services provider, or are contracting with the state lottery commission, you must disclose the conviction.

You’ll be asked directly in the application.

You may also have to disclose the conviction when applying for certain professional licenses.

Note: in California, the correct legal term is dismissed, not expunged.

Can I own a firearm once my record is sealed under California’s Clean Slate law?

The new law for automatic sealing of arrests and dismissal of convictions specifically states that the relief provided does not affect a person’s ability to own or possess a firearm if the terms of the original arrest or conviction prevented you from doing so. However, there may be other avenues available to restore your firearm rights:

• Passage of time. Some misdemeanor convictions carry a 10-year firearm ban. Once the 10 years have passed, your firearm rights will be restored, unless another order of the court (such as a Criminal Protective Order) still prohibits you from possessing firearms.

• Reduction of a felony to a misdemeanor under Penal Code section 17(b). If you were convicted of a “wobbler” felony (meaning a crime that can be charged either as a felony or a misdemeanor), you may be able to petition the court to reduce the conviction to a misdemeanor. So long as the misdemeanor does not on its own carry any firearm restrictions, you would technically then be permitted to possess a firearm under California law.

• Pardon. If you were convicted of a felony, you may apply for either a direct or indirect pardon from the governor. In most cases, a gubernatorial pardon restores your right to possess a firearm.

If you want to get your gun rights back, you should talk to an attorney about how the clean slate law affects you before getting any firearms.

What is the new California expungement law?

California has no expungement law. You may be referring to SB 731, which automatically seals arrest records and dismisses certain convictions. It’s described in detail above.

Some people use expungement interchangeably with sealing, but they’re two different legal concepts.

Who qualifies for arrest relief under SB 731?

If you were arrested for a misdemeanor, you qualify if any of the following are true:

• You were arrested, but no charges were ever filed, and one year has passed since the date of the arrest.
• You were found “not guilty” after a trial.
• You successfully completed a diversion program.

If you were arrested for a felony:

• If your felony was punishable by less than 8 years, you’re eligible if any of the following are true:

– No charges were filed, and 3 years (the statute of limitations) have passed.
– You were found “not guilty” after a trial.
– You successfully completed a diversion program.

• If you were arrested for a felony punishable by more than 8 years, you are eligible if:

– No charges were filed, and six years (the statute of limitations) have passed.
– You were found not guilty after a trial.
– You successfully completed a diversion program.

Who qualifies for conviction relief under SB 731?

If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you qualify if:

• Your conviction occurred on or after Jan. 1, 1973.
• You were not required to register as a sex offender.
• You served your term and any probation, and the terms of your probation do not currently bind you.
• You are not currently serving a sentence for any offense.
• You do not have pending charges for any offense.
• You were sentenced to probation, and you successfully completed it, or, if you were not sentenced to probation, but one year has passed since the date of judgment.

If you were convicted of a felony, you qualify if:

• You were not required to register as a sex offender.
• You served your term and any post-release supervision like probation, parole, or post-release community supervision and are not currently on any form of supervision.
• You’re not serving a sentence for any offense.
• You don’t have pending charges for any offense.
• You were sentenced to probation and successfully completed it.
• As of July 1, 2023, you’re eligible if you were sentenced to state prison after Jan 1, 2005, and served your term.
• You have not had any felony convictions since you finished serving your sentence and any post-release supervision like probation or parole.
• You are not eligible if your felony is serious or violent (like robbery, rape, murder, first-degree burglary.).

What crimes cannot be expunged in California?

The correct legal term in California is not expungement, however, many people use it to refer to the sealing of arrest records or the dismissal of convictions. Arrests or convictions that cannot be sealed or dismissed in California include:

• Serious or violent felonies like robbery, rape, murder, first-degree burglary.
• Any crime for which you were required to register as a sex offender.
• Any crime for which you did not successfully complete probation, for example if you had your probation revoked due to a probation violation.

Is there automatic expungement in CA under AB1076 or 731?

The correct legal term in California is not expungement, but the answer is essentially “yes.” Records are sealed, or convictions are dismissed, which some people refer to as expungement.

The Department of Justice is required to go through all its criminal history records to identify everyone eligible for relief under the new laws.

Once the Department of Justice determines that a person is eligible, they must update the records to reflect that relief has been granted. They must also inform the Superior Court or County Court where the arrest or conviction occurred.

A prosecuting office or probation department may file a petition to challenge automatic relief, but they must take action at least 90 days before you first become eligible for relief. If you file, you’d be entitled to a hearing with a judge on whether relief should be denied and could hire a lawyer to argue on your behalf at that hearing.

Is there a Clean Slate program application in California?

No. There is no application. The process is automatic.

If you’d like to check whether your record has been sealed or your conviction dismissed, use the process described below.

What should a person do if they want to take advantage of SB 731 in California?

The process is automatic, though there are ways to check; see below.

How do I know that my conviction has been expunged in California?

The correct legal term in California is not expunged, but some people refer to records being sealed or convictions being dismissed, as expungement.

You should take a few steps to figure out whether your arrest records have been sealed or your conviction has been dismissed.

1. Make an appointment to get fingerprinted. Or, if you have an attorney, your attorney may be able to get a copy of your criminal record without your fingerprints, in some cases.

2. Request a copy of your rap sheet or state criminal history.

3. Send a copy of your fingerprints to the Department of Justice with your request, or ask your attorney to take care of it for you. In some cases, if you have an attorney, you may be able to obtain the records without sending in fingerprints.

4. When you receive your criminal history, review it to see if relief has already been granted.

5. If relief hasn’t been granted, you can request form BCIA 8706 from the Department of Justice.

6. Fill out form BCIA 8706, a Claim of Alleged Inaccuracy or Incompleteness.

You can have your attorney complete the correction for you by using the same process and corresponding with the Department of Justice on your behalf.

Will a felony show up after 7 years in California?

No. The Clean Slate law doesn’t alter existing California law, which already ensured that such convictions would not show up after 7 years already. This law does not change the 7-year law. source


SB 731 – Sealing & Destroying Felony Records in California

With California Senate Bill 731 now law, most state felony convictions get automatically sealed from your criminal record four years after the case ends. In addition, all felony arrest records which did not lead to charges get automatically sealed after three years. Plus you cannot be denied teaching credentials for expunged drug possession convictions older than five years.

Here are five key things to know about California Senate Bill 731, which took effect on July 1, 2023:

  1. Most felony convictions will automatically get cleared from your record 4 years after the case ends.
  2. Arrest records for felonies punishable by state prison get automatically sealed if no charges are brought within 3 years.
  3. You can withdraw your guilty/no contest plea for most felony convictions and get the case dismissed once you meet the specified criteria.
  4. Expunged drug possession convictions more than 5 years old will not disqualify you from getting a teaching license.
  5. Each month California’s Department of Justice will review the statewide criminal justice database and clear all records eligible for “relief.”

SB 731 along with Assembly Bill 1076 comprise California’s Clean Slate Laws, making it easier to clear your background check and therefore find employment.

Below is a summary of when you can generally expect your criminal record to be automatically cleared (called “relief”) without you having to do anything.

Your California criminal record When your record gets cleared
Misdemeanor arrest with no charges brought 1 year after the arrest
Misdemeanor charge which gets dismissed Right after the dismissal
Misdemeanor conviction where you are granted probation or completed other specified criteria Right after probation/criteria is done
Misdemeanor conviction where you are not granted probation 1 year after case ends
Felony arrest with no charges brought 3 years after the arrest
Felony charge which gets dismissed Right after the dismissal
Felony conviction where you are granted probation (not including serious, violent, or sex offender crimes) Right after probation is done
Felony conviction where you are not granted probation (not including serious, violent, or sex offender crimes) 4 years after case ends

 

 

 

 

​https://youtu.be/ECJWuKzX2as?si=0CTTznMbXFnq2Tt_

 

1. What does SB 731 do?

The most important thing California Senate Bill 731 does is automatically clear most felony convictions four years after the case ends. This does not apply to serious felonies, violent felonies, or felonies that require sex offender registration.

Plus any felony arrests that do not result in charges get automatically cleared from your record after three years, even if the felony was punishable by state prison as opposed to county jail.

Other important measures in SB 731 are:

  1. In felony cases where you meet specified criteria, you can now withdraw your guilty or no contest plea and get the case dismissed – which will lead to automatic clearance from your criminal record.
  2. If you are applying for a teaching license, you will not be disqualified for any expunged drug possession convictions more than five years old.

Note that there may be a delay in getting your record automatically cleared if you pick up new criminal cases in the interim.1

2. What happened before SB 731?

Prior to SB 731, a limited number of criminal records were – and will continue to be – automatically cleared:

  • Any misdemeanor or felony cases that are dismissed get cleared right away;
  • Any misdemeanor or most felony cases where you are granted probation get cleared once you finish probation; and
  • Any misdemeanor convictions where you were not granted probation get cleared one year after the case closes.2

3. Will my gun rights be restored?

Nothing in SB 731 will restore your gun rights if they have been stripped due to a felony or misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. Usually the only way to restore your firearm rights is through a Governor’s Pardon. Learn more about restoring gun rights in California.

Employer running a background check on a computer

SB 731 allows most felony convictions to be automatically cleared from criminal records four years after the case ends.

4. What if my background check is still showing crimes that should have been cleared?

If your arrest, charge or conviction is eligible for automatic clearance but still appears on your background check, you can contact the California Department of Justice at (916) 210-6276. The Judicial Branch of California also provides information on how to petition to clean your record.

5. What is the difference between sealing, expunging, clearing, cleaning, and relief?

In California, expunging refers to getting a case dismissed after having initially pleaded guilty (or no contest) and completing certain court-ordered requirements.3 Once a case gets expunged, it can then be sealed from your criminal record so it no longer appears in background checks.4

Sealing can also go by the terms cleaning or clearing. Meanwhile, SB 731 almost exclusively uses “relief” to refer to getting your criminal record automatically cleared once you are eligible.

The legal terminology can get very confusing. Though with the passage of SB 731 and AB 1076 before it, your criminal record should get automatically cleared without you having to do anything (in most cases).

6. If my criminal record has not been cleared yet, can my employer ask about it?

Employers may not ask about criminal convictions until they make a conditional offer of employment. Then they have to perform an individualized assessment to determine whether your criminal history is serious enough to disqualify you for the job.5


Legal References

  1. SB 731Penal Code 851.931203.41 & 1203.425Education Code 44242.5 & 44346.
  2. AB 1076Penal Code 851.93.
  3. Penal Code 1203.4.
  4. Penal Code 851.91.
  5. Fair Employment and Housing Act 12952.
  6. California Civil Code 1786.18.  See also FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act).
  7. Sealing an Arrest Record
  8. Sealing Juvenile Records
  9. California Senate Bill 731
  10. California Assembly Bill 1076
  11. California Penal Code 1203.4 PC
  12. California Penal Code 851.91 PC
  13. California Civil Code 1786.18

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