Having a California criminal record creates many challenges. It may make it more difficult for you to find a job, and it may also make it hard for you to volunteer, find housing and navigate other aspects of your life. However, a new law that takes effect in July 2023 may help minimize the damage your criminal record causes you.
According to Fox 11 Los Angeles, the bill, Senate Bill 731, automatically seals the criminal records of some offenders once certain circumstances have come to fruition.
How many California residents have records
An estimated 8 million California residents currently have criminal records that make certain aspects of their life more difficult. This amounts to about one in five California residents facing various restrictions and limitations. Research shows that having a criminal record exposes you to almost 5,000 possible legal restrictions, many of which involve housing, education or other restrictions.
How the bill helps those offenders
The new law taking effect in July means many California offenders are going to have their convictions and arrest records sealed after completing their sentences and any required probation or parole obligations. However, four years must have passed since those arrests or convictions, and you must remain free from arrest for any more felonies during that time. While many offenders in California are going to benefit from this law change, those arrested or convicted of serious or violent felony offenses are ineligible to have their records sealed under the new law. Some crimes that make you ineligible include murder, attempted murder, kidnapping and assault, among others.
Proponents of the new law argued that having criminal records viewable through background checks make it hard for many offenders to rebuild their lives after an arrest or conviction.