California State Legislature Passes Legislation to Seal Criminal Records

Posted: August 20, 2022

The California State Legislature recently passed a controversial bill (SB 731) that will automatically seal the criminal conviction and arrest records of Californians, as long their record is clean for four years. Since the California State Assembly passed the bill earlier this summer, it will now be sent to Governor Gavin Newsom for his signature. The bill failed the assembly last year but passed this time around with amendments. If the new bill is signed by Governor Newsom, it will take effect take effect in July 2023.

Open States wrote a strong abstract of the new legislation. Here are a few more details about it:

  • The bill, “would make conviction record relief available for a defendant convicted, on or after January 1, 2005, of a felony for which they did not complete probation without revocation if the defendant appears to have completed all terms of incarceration, probation, mandatory supervision, post release community supervision, and parole, and a period of 4 years has elapsed during which the defendant was not convicted of a new felony offense, except as specified.”
  • Arrest records for ex-offenders who weren’t convicted will also be sealed.
  • The new legislation would “prohibit the record of a conviction for possession of specified controlled substances that is more than 5 years old and for which relief was granted from being presented to the committee or from being used to deny a credential.”
  • Offenders who were convicted of serious felonies and/or are registered sex offenders will not have their records sealed.
  • Sealed records cannot be used to deny obtaining credentials.
  • Criminal records will still be provided to “school districts, county offices of education, charter schools, and private schools that conduct background checks for job applicants.”

One in five Californians have a criminal or arrest record. Supporters argue that they should be relieved of the obstacles they face getting jobs and obtaining housing. Opponents of the bill, including some law enforcement representatives, argue that employers should be able to review an applicant’s entire criminal history and that past behavior is indicative of future behavior so records should not be sealed.

There are 37 states and more than 150 cities that have adopted “Ban the Box” laws, which prohibits employers from asking about past criminal history, but this new California legislation is significant since it goes a step further by actually sealing the criminal records.

We will continue to keep you updated on new developments surrounding this important legislation. For more information, please to contact our Client Service Ninjas at (877) 360-4636.