SENATE BILL 731 (Sealing Felony Records)
California lawmakers have proposed one of the country’s most sweeping bills that would allow some Californians with criminal felony convictions the unique opportunity to have their records sealed after four years. The proposed legislation would apply to offenders who have managed to maintain a clear record for a set time. This legislation is praised by some members of the community who believe individuals deserve a second chance. It has also been criticized by members of law enforcement and other groups.
Many individuals who have served sentences face obstacles in obtaining housing and employment due to their criminal background. While society expects these individuals to move forward and make improvements in their lives, the reality is that their past precludes them from several opportunities. Senator Maria Durazo from Los Angeles drafted the legislation to combat the burdens individuals face after being released from custody.
The legislation is now before Governor Newsom. Even if the proposed bill is enacted, the law would still allow government agencies, school districts and other entities access to background checks. Law enforcement and other state agencies will continue to access the records.
The law also precludes certain offenders from relief. Specifically, an individual who was convicted of a serious or violent felony would not be entitled to the benefits of the proposed legislation. Similarly, an individual who is required to register as a sex offender would not be allowed relief.
Law enforcement agencies contend that the proposed legislation will put communities at risk if individuals can have their criminal records sealed. On the other hand, legislation advocates argue that depriving individuals of job opportunities and housing is a driving force behind recidivism rates.
Currently, some laws allow individuals who have suffered a misdemeanor or felony conviction a chance to have their records dismissed. Other laws allow individuals who have been arrested but not convicted to have their records sealed. The new proposed legislation would expand relief to individuals who served time in prison.
While it is unclear what will happen with the new legislation, there are still many things an individual who has been arrested or convicted of an offense can do to clean their record. If you have been arrested or convicted of a misdemeanor or felony in Fresno or Madera, call our office and we can discuss what options you may have.
Many individuals are eligible for relief under Penal Code section 1203.4 (expungement.) Others may be eligible to have their records sealed. To determine your eligibility, contact a criminal defense attorney today. Our office specializes in assisting members of the Fresno and Madera communities.
Penal Code section 1203.4 allows for an expungement of a misdemeanor or felony conviction if an individual has successfully completed the terms and conditions of probation.
Penal Code section 851.91 allows for the sealing of a record when the arrest does not lead to a conviction.
There are a number of other laws that may apply to your specific situation. For assistance with cleaning your record, call our office at (559) 222-5800.