Even minor criminal offenders – even those who have paid their debt to society – face obstacles with employment and housing. While many people are eligible to petition the courts to have the records expunged, it’s still a lengthy and potentially costly process.
Some legal experts argue that the process for record relief should be less of a burden. California Assemblyman Phil Tang would like to help people with arrest records dating back 50 years get back their good name.
If you were arrested for or convicted of a low-level crime on or after January 1, 1973, then you may be in luck. Assemblymen Tang recently introduced Assembly Bill 2978 Department of Justice: arrest and conviction records: review.
Erasing Low-Level Criminal Records
AB 2978 would provide relief to millions of Californians if it is passed and signed by the governor, according to KSBY. Existing law, beginning January 1, 2021, requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) to review the records in the nationwide criminal justice databases and identify persons who are eligible for arrest record relief or automatic conviction record relief.
However, the new mandate does not apply to people stemming back decades. Such individuals must jump through hoops to have their criminal records withheld from disclosure or modified. AB 2978 would require that an arrest or conviction occurring on or after January 1, 1973, also be considered for relief by the DOJ.
“These are people who have paid their debts to society, fulfilled their responsibilities, they’ve taken care of restitution in court fees and they’ve done everything they have been asked, and at this point they should be entitled to move on with their lives,” offered one California criminal defense attorney.
The new bill would simplify the expungement process by automatically erasing one’s criminal record. The legislation, if enacted, would not apply to sex offenders or any offender who served time in prison.
“They’re trying to make ends meet and trying to take care of their families, get a job, be productive members of society,” said attorney Taylor. “Why would we want to throw hurdles for them?”
Under AB 2978, criminal records comprised of minor offenses would be invisible to employers and property sellers, the article reports. However, the courts and law enforcement will still have access.
Orange County Attorney at Law
Please contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if you are being charged with a criminal offense. Attorney Brower has the experience to help you achieve a favorable outcome to your case. Please call 714-997-4400 for a consultation.