If you want your arrest records to be sealed or your conviction to be dismissed, it may be possible because of California’s Clean Slate Act, which allows Californians to move forward with their lives without being held back by conviction or arrest records.
In 2022, SB 731 and SB 1260 both passed. These new laws made important changes to the Clean Slate Act, AB 1076. People also call it the second chance law or record sealing law.
Here is everything you need to know.
California’s Clean Slate Act, or AB 1076 or penal code 1076, automatically seals some arrest records and dismisses some criminal convictions. The law, signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in October 2019, started on Jan 1, 2021. People who qualify for this relief do not need to do anything to clear their records.
Before this law, people had to file a petition in the superior court and go through a hearing to seal their records or dismiss or expunge their convictions. This involved paying for court and lawyer fees, so AB 1076 was a big help, even though it only covered arrests and convictions after January 1, 2021.
AB 1076 is now obsolete and has been replaced by SB 731 and SB 1260, which covers more situations.
Curious about juvenile record sealing?
SB 731 is the new clean slate law. 731 rendered 1076 (the old clean slate law) obsolete and, combined with SB 1260, passed simultaneously, to set the new standard.
Essentially, these two laws expanded the clean slate law to apply to more people and situations.
• The Clean Slate Law now applies to convictions and arrests that take place after January 1, 1973 (not just those occurring after Jan. 1, 2021).
• Automatic relief is now available even for certain felonies if those felonies result in a state prison sentence.
The change to the automatic relief law is a big deal; before SB 1260, you could have gotten certain felony convictions dismissed, but not if you’d been sentenced to state prison.
Now, for qualifying felonies, if you’ve finished serving your term plus any supervision, you can get these records sealed or expunged as long as four years have passed and you have not offended again. This could be huge for a person’s ability to secure jobs and housing after a conviction.
SB 731 passed in September 2022 and went into effect on January 1, 2023.
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.
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.
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.
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.
No, except if you’re applying to be a peace officer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.).
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.
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.
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.
The process is automatic, though there are ways to check; see below.
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.
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.
How We Can Help
While the clean slate process should be automatic, there could be errors in expunging and sealing DOJ records. Courts sometimes mishandle the processing of these records as well.
We can help you determine if there’s been an error and whether you’re entitled to relief and haven’t been granted it. If that’s the case, we can help you seek a correction.
Finally, if the DA or probation office tries to prevent relief, we can help you litigate this issue.
Ready for your clean start? Contact our office to get help today.