An arrest record can significantly disrupt a person’s life. Many Californians who have served time for a conviction struggle to find employment, secure loans, and acquire housing. Unfortunately, many of the said individuals do not know that there is an avenue of recourse that could dramatically change their lives—petitioning the court to seal a person’s arrest record.
Existing law authorizes a person who was arrested and has successfully completed a pre-filing diversion program, a specified drug diversion program, et al. to have their record sealed. When such petitions are approved, the crime for which the defendant was charged is deemed to have never occurred.
Low-level offenders can seal their records, in many cases, but most eligible offenders are not privy to this information and are “living in a paper prison,” says San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. California Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco has introduced a bill that would automatically clear some 8 million criminal convictions eligible for sealing, Capital Public Radio reports. AB 1076, Criminal records: automatic relief would require the Department of Justice to review the records in the state summary criminal history information database and to identify those who are eligible for having their record sealed, and seal the said records without a petition.
Sealing Criminal Records
If passed, law enforcement databases would hold records of a low-level offender’s conviction, but background check agencies and the general public would be unable to find evidence of a person’s past transgressions. It is important to note that sex offenders and those who served time in prison are ineligible for utilizing the benefits of AB 1076.
“There has been such a focus on rehabilitation in Sacramento,” Ting said. “Rehabilitation begins with a fresh start. You can’t get a fresh start with something still on your record.”
A similar practice of sealing records was used in San Francisco following the legalization of marijuana, according to the article. Rather than have people go through the long process of petitioning the courts to have their record sealed, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office automatically erased 9,000 marijuana convictions eligible for sealing. AB 1076 would use the same method for other low-level offenders throughout the state.
“This is very low-level technology,” Gascon said. “It will provide relief to people who are unable to get jobs and housing.”
Southern California Criminal Defense Attorney
The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower can assist you or a loved one who is facing legal trouble. Attorney Brower has a long history of bringing about favorable outcomes in some of the most challenging cases. Please contact our office today to learn more.