California advances law sealing criminal records

U.S.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (NewsNation) — California would have what proponents call the “nation’s most sweeping law” to seal criminal records if Gov. Gavin Newsom signs legislation sent to him Thursday by state legislators.

The bill would automatically seal conviction and arrest records for most ex-offenders who are not convicted of another felony for four years after completing their sentences and any parole or probation. Records of arrests that don’t bring convictions also would be sealed.

It would take effect in July, and excludes those convicted of serious and violent felonies, and felonies requiring sex offender registration.

Advocates of the bill say about 8 million Californians have a criminal or arrest record, or about one of every five state residents. A criminal record can trigger nearly 5,000 legal restrictions in California, many of which can limit job opportunities as well as the ability to get housing and educational opportunities, supporters said.

The Senate approved the Thursday bill in a 28-10 final vote, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Aside from general criminal records, the bill would aid would-be teachers, who under current law must be denied teaching credentials if they have been convicted of a controlled substance offense. The bill would bar the teacher credentialing commission from considering drug possession convictions that are more than five years old and have been expunged. But the commission and school officials would still have access to other convictions dating to 2020.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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