What’s in California’s New Clean Slate Law SB 731 and SB 1260?

What’s in California’s New Clean Slate Law SB 731 and SB 1260?

In 2022, SB 731 and SB 1260 both passed. These new laws made important changes to the Clean Slate Act, AB 1076, also known as the Second Chance Law. The Clean Slate Law now applies to convictions and arrests that take place after January 1, 1973. Before SB 1260, only certain Felony convictions that did not include a state prison sentence were eligible for dismissal. SB 731 passed in September 2022 and went into effect on January 1, 2023.

The law directs the state Department of Justice to automatically seal non-serious, non-violent, and non-sexual felony convictions from public view when the defendant has completed their sentence and has not been convicted of another crime in four years. Automatic expungement eliminates the need for defendants with lower-level convictions to find an attorney, pay filing fees, or go before a judge. This could be huge for a person’s ability to secure jobs and housing after a conviction. 

SB 731 mandates that the local courts block sealed cases from public view. Background check companies commonly used by private-sector employers and landlords can not include this information in any background check report. Most private employers can neither ask about the conviction nor consider it when hiring. The exceptions 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

The state justice department will keep the sealed records, which will share them with other government agencies, police, and prosecutors if an ex-offender is arrested again or with the state Department of Education if the ex-offender applies for a school job. Under the law, expungements also don’t allow someone to own firearms again or avoid disclosing a conviction if they run for public office or apply for a job with law enforcement.

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 the defendant was required to register as a sex offender.

• Any crime for which the defendant did not successfully complete probation.