Bill Watch

Bill Would Retroactively Expunge Eligible Criminal Records Dating Back to 1973

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

California Assemblymember Phil Ting has introduced a bill aimed at reducing the collateral consequences that can follow Californians for decades after they come into contact with the criminal justice system.

AB 2978, would make retroactive a 2018 state law automating the expungement process for eligible individuals.

Last year, CA Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assemblymember Phil Ting’s AB 1076. Once that law goes into effect, it will automatically complete expungement and resentencing processes for people convicted of eligible low-level offenses (not violent crimes and sex offenses), as well as people with arrests that never resulted in criminal convictions, as long as the statute of limitations has passed. The bill will also clear eligible convictions for people who served time in local jails or on probation, as long as they remain crime-free afterward.

Yet AB 1076 will only apply to arrests and convictions occurring after Jan. 1, 2021.

Ting praised AB 1076, but said that it must be expanded in the interest of fairness. Thus, AB 2978 would extend the deadline back to 1973. Without that expansion, “millions of Californians” will continue “living in a paper prison,” Ting said. “Their records prevent them from getting jobs or housing. Let’s give people with past convictions the same clean slate that individuals in the future will be entitled to. Everybody deserves a second chance.”

Most eligible individuals never successfully clear their records—because of the complicated petition system and associated fees, and because many are unaware that they are eligible for such relief. Fewer than one-out-of-five people successfully complete the process.

These lingering marks on criminal records can keep people from being able to access housing, employment, and education. People with criminal convictions must contend with thousands of legal restrictions that often make successful reentry far more challenging. Even old arrests that did not result in criminal convictions can block the path to employment.

The bill is backed by Californians for Safety and Justice, Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Salazar and San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

“Millions of Californians who have completed their sentence, paid their debt, and remained crime-free for years still have old, stale convictions on their record,” said Jay Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. This leads to thousands of legal restrictions that block people from employment, housing, education, and other critical opportunities … We must mean what we say when we call someone rehabilitated and stop denying their ability to earn stability and move forward in their lives.”

AB 2978 will go before its first committee on or after March 23.

11 Comments

  • OMG – is the author for real? “a bill aimed at reducing the collateral consequences that can follow Californians for decades after they come into contact with the criminal justice system.”

    Do you possibly mean when a person commits a crime, is apprehended for such, charged, and then convicted? Did the victims simply “come into contact” with somebody who would later “come into contact with the criminal justice system”?

    When you can’t even tell the truth about CONVICTED CRIMINALS, what can you tell the truth about?

  • This is great! Because in 2005 i was minding my own business and then whamoo! The criminal justice system slammed into me ! I went to prison for no reason for 16 years , they say I shot someone , this is great ! Now it’ll be all erased I won’t be an ex con anymore , I will be just someone that the criminal justice system come in contact with me …………get out of California while you can

  • Suggest that everyone clicks on the link to the actual bill. It does not apply to violent crimes or sex offenders and if my quick perusal is accurate, only applies to misdemeanors and infractions. The data will still be on a CII printout and available for law enforcement use. If the person reoffends, the prior can be pled and proven on the new case. Given a magic wand, some changes I’d make here but it’s not quite as ominous as it might appear.

  • i was charged with a domestic violence and simple battery charge. They dropped the domestic violence charge and i was only convicted with the simple battery charge. This happened 17 years ago and was expunged but is still on my record for public view and it says dismissed after convicton which to me is unfair still. I was innocent but couldnt afford a lawyer and didnt want to take it to trial because if i lost they would give me the max. Anyways do you think this new bill will help me and if it does in what way will it help. TY

    • Depends if the simple battery charge you were convicted of is considered as a serious crime. If not, you would be included in this new record removal process, and it will benefit you in the employment, housing, and education areas.

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