AB1076: Automatic Expungements after January 1, 2021

Person Free Of Criminal Records

An arrest or conviction on your rap sheet is a sure way of being judged and ostracized by your peers and society. If you have a criminal record, chances are you want a fresh start and you deserve one! Here at Criminal Defense Hero, we believe that once you have repaid your debt to society, you deserve to chance to reenter and contribute to society. Luckily California offers past offenders a few different ways to clear a criminal record. The most common method is an expungement under Section 1203.4 of the Penal Code. 

Other methods include:

  • a petition to classify a felony as a misdemeanor (Prop 47)
  • a plea of factual innocence (Section 851.8)
  • petitioning a court to seal arrest records (Section 851.91)
  • reducing a felony wobbler to a misdemeanor (Section 17b)
  • certificate of rehabilitation (Section 4852.01)
  • gubernatorial pardon

Each of the above methods works under specific circumstances. For example, an expungement clears a conviction or an arrest from one’s record. The process of sealing arrest records makes an arrest record unavailable to the public. However, anyone with a court order or doing an in-depth background check can still access these records.

New Expungement Law – AB 1076

As California is going through the process of amendments in prison reform strategies, the state governor signed into law “AB 1076.” Beginning January 1st, 2021, this new law will require the California Department of Justice to automatically seal and expound records for certain people

The law will make it possible for anyone who receives a conviction or arrest after January 1st to have his or her record sealed or expunged automatically so long as he or she meet the requirements. According to the new law, the Department of Justice will also have to review databases every month to identify eligible personnel. 

Other responsibilities on the Department of Justice required by AB 1076 include: granting relief if such information presents the report, submitting a notice of all cases to the superior court, and publishing annual statistics on total reliefs offered.

AB 1076 is especially beneficial for those who don’t seek an expungement because the process is too cumbersome or if they’re unaware that such a relief even exists. The automatic expungement policy will help alleviate the stigma that comes with having a criminal record. 

AB1076 would expunge the following types of convictions

The general rule is that if a conviction did not lead to a state sentencing, you are eligible for an expungement on specific grounds. However, there are a few exceptions to this, like those regarding certain sex crimes and infractions. In brief, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Convictions where the offender was sent to state prison for a felony and did not meet the requirements for Section 1170h of the Penal Code, cannot be expunged
  2. Convictions that resulted in county prison or probation can be expunged except for certain sex crimes like a sexual battery conviction
  3. All infractions are eligible for an expungement except those involving the California Vehicle Code, as a felony DUI.

Benefits of AB 1076

Perhaps the most valuable outcome from AB 1076 would be the fact that eligible people would no longer have to go through the process of seeking an expungement themselves. They would have a system in place that checks for their eligibility then grants them relief automatically. An expungement also means that you would no longer be required to legally state your arrest or conviction unless asked by a peace officer. 

For all the benefits provided by getting an expungement, the relief doesn’t extend to certain aspects of life. If a past offender is granted an arrest or conviction relief, the following outcomes from her or his sentencing would still prevail: 

  • He or she would be required to disclose an arrest or criminal convictions for applications made in a public office or a licensing board
  • A district attorney can still use his or her criminal record for prosecution
  • Her or his authorization to own or possess a firearm
  • A prohibition from holding public office
  • The provisions of Section 13555 of the Vehicle Code
  • His or her ability to receive or provide payment for providing in-home services

Final thoughtsAs we’ve come to establish, one’s criminal record does NOT just go away. An expungement removes a criminal history from the majority of the public eye. With a clean slate, more people can move on from their past by pursuing several economic opportunities that would otherwise be hindered by a criminal record. Unfortunately, since AB 1076 will only apply to arrests and convictions made after January 1st, this law will not help you if your arrest or conviction happened before then. Instead, consider seeking out an experienced criminal defense lawyer like Attorney Don Hammond to explore other options. You can find out all you need to know about what makes Don Hammond a great expungement lawyer. Call us now on +3235293660 for a free consultation.

The Criminal Defense Hero Attorney Don Hammond


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