California’s Department of Justice (CA DOJ) recently announced new data concerning Assembly Bill 1076 (AB 1076), which the governor signed in 2019. The data indicates that the state has successfully expunged over 11 million arrest and conviction records.
According to the CA DOJ, the automatic expungements occurred between July 1st, 2022, and December 31st, 2022. However, the reform that allowed these expungements did not give individuals the right to have their records expunged. Instead, it automated the expungement process for records already deemed eligible for expungement.
Before this reform, many found the expungement process lengthy and complicated. However, AB 1076 has mandated the CA DOJ to expunge old arrests that did not result in charges automatically. The bill also includes individuals with qualifying low-level offenses on their records that did not result in a prison sentence. They must have completed their entire sentence or diversion program.
In addition to AB 1076, lawmakers passed SB 731 in 2022. This bill considerably increased the number of offenses eligible for expungement. However, sexual offenses will not qualify for sealing. Additionally, “Arrest relief does not relieve a person of the obligation to disclose an arrest in response to a direct question contained in a questionnaire or application for employment as a peace officer, as defined in Section 830.”
Furthermore, “Relief granted pursuant to this section has no effect on the ability of a criminal justice agency, as defined in Section 851.92, to access and use records that are granted relief to the same extent that would have been permitted for a criminal justice agency had relief not been granted.”
Still, this law has helped many California residents improve their employment and housing opportunities. Though millions of individuals had eligible records for expungement, they could not afford it until the laws took effect. As such, many people earned less money and had fewer educational opportunities that might allow them to improve their situation. However, this has changed since the laws passed, allowing these people to enjoy more opportunities.
California employers must ensure that their employment policies comply with these laws. It has become more critical than ever for employers to ensure they perform background checks that comply with local, state, and federal laws governing the employment screening process. The best way to do this is to partner with a trusted screening provider experienced in maintaining compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
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