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A new law signed on Thursday will allow Californians to seal old arrests and convictions from their official records in an effort to give them a fresh start.
The bill, SB 731, was introduced by State Senator María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) in March 2021 and was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 27.
The law will automatically seal conviction and arrest records in California once a former offender has “fully completed their sentence and successfully gone four years without further contact with the justice system.” It also includes arrest records that did not result in a conviction. It does not, however, apply to registered sex offenses or serious felonies. All criminal histories will still be shared with law enforcement.
The new law will allow millions of people to gain employment, housing, education opportunities and more, proponents say. 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. “California now has the most comprehensive record sealing system in the nation,” said Jay Jordan, chief operating officer of the Alliance for Safety and Justice.
“Millions of Californians will now be able to contribute to this state and its economy, freed from the thousands of counterproductive yet permanent restrictions to opportunity that serve only to destabilize families and undermine our collective safety.”