Andrew Messersmith, Supervising Attorney
New and expanded relief is coming to those arrested for and/or convicted of an offense in California. In March 2021 State Senator Maria Elena Durazo introduced bill SB 731 to expand record clearance relief. The bill was signed by Governor Newsom on September 27, 2022 and the provisions of the bill will take effect July 1, 2023.
The enactment of SB 731 now gives California the broadest record clearance laws in the nation. Some of the major expansions to record clearance provided by SB 731 are, generally speaking:
- Automatic record clearance for all arrests that did not result in a conviction. All Felony arrests that did not result in conviction are cleared within 6 years of the arrest (or fewer based on the length of the sentence possible if convicted)
- Automatic record clearance for all misdemeanors and infractions with successful completion of probation (or if not placed on probation then after 1 year).
- Automatic record clearance for all non-serious, non-violent, non-registerable felony convictions after 4 years if there have been no felony convictions in the 4 year period subsequent to sentence completion. This includes expansion of relief to individuals who had a violation of probation, but went on to successfully comply with all probation terms.
- Lastly, and most broadly, all non-sex crime felony convictions are now subject to discretionary relief 2 years after completion of the sentence for the offense.
This expansion of relief is anticipated to affect over one million Californians. An estimated 70 million US residents, nearly one in three adults, has an arrest or conviction on their record, including eight million in California. Officials estimate at least 225,000 Californians will have an old conviction automatically sealed and over one million will be eligible to petition a judge. This is an exciting expansion to relief that will provide individuals new employment and housing opportunities that they were precluded from in the past due to their criminal record.