California Assembly Approves Bill to Seal Arrest Records for Those Not Convicted of a Crime

September 13, 2017

Consumer Arrest Record Equity (CARE) Act (Senate Bill 393) sponsored by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón

SACRAMENTO – The California Assembly approved Senate Bill 393, the Consumer Arrest Record Equity Act, to seal arrest records and remove barriers to employment and housing for those arrested but not convicted of a crime. The CARE Act is sponsored by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón.

Senate Bill 393 is part of the #EquityAndJustice bill package of bills jointly authored by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) to promote prevention, rehabilitation and maintain family cohesion.

A recent study found that nearly 40% of men and 20% of women are arrested before age 23, yet many are never convicted.

“Arrests that do not lead to conviction can haunt people and show up years later in background checks that block them from finding a job or an apartment,” said Senator Lara. “Jobs are our number one crime-fighting tool, and SB 393 will clear away barriers to employment for many arrested as young people who were found innocent or never tried. When 40% of young men are arrested before age 23, we need to do something to repair the damage an arrest without conviction can do.”

Senator Mitchell echoed Lara’s concerns about how an arrest can haunt someone for years, if not decades. “When we know better we do better,” Mitchell said. “Now that we have the knowledge of knowing what has been happening to our children, we need to step up.”

“The presumption of innocence is a hallmark of the United States Constitution, yet people who are arrested and never convicted often face barriers to employment and housing,” said District Attorney George Gascón.  “That’s unfair and unjust, but the CARE Act ensures that thousands of Californians will no longer wear the scarlet letter that comes with an arrest record.”

“Our clients are routinely denied jobs and licenses based on non-conviction arrests,” said Sarah Crowley, Director of the Clean Slate Practice at the East Bay Community Law Center. “This bill's expanded sealing remedy will help ensure that people are not penalized for criminal justice contacts that have no bearing on their ability or character.”

The CARE Act establishes a uniform legal process for a person to petition the court to seal arrest records that did not result in a conviction. It also updates criminal records at both local and state levels so that credit reporting agencies and the California Department of Justice do not disseminate sealed arrest information.

SB 393 needs a concurrence vote in the Senate, where it passed in May with a bipartisan 33-6 vote, before it can go to Governor Brown for review.

The six bills in the #EquityAndJustice package are:

  • SB 180 – Drug Sentence Enhancements
    This reform measure seeks to put greater emphasis on prevention, rehabilitation and maintaining family cohesion by reducing sentence enhancements for certain low level, nonviolent drug offenses. Status: Passed by the Legislature and awaiting action by Governor Brown.
  • SB 190 – Ending Juvenile Fees
    Puts an end to innocent defendants being required to reimburse the courts for the cost of appointed counsel by specifying that this requirement may only be imposed in cases where the defendant is ultimately convicted of a crime. Status: Passed by the Legislature and awaiting action by Governor Brown.
  • SB 355 - No Court Fees for the Innocent
    This provides that only those who are convicted of a crime are required to reimburse the courts for legal counsel fees. Status: Governor Brown signed into law on July 10.
  • SB 393 – Sealing of Arrest Records
    This bill would seal arrest records and remove barriers to employment for those arrested but not convicted of a crime. Status: Approved by the Assembly, awaiting concurrence vote.
  • SB 394 – Juveniles Life Without the Possibility of Parole
    This measure would bring California into compliance with Montgomery v. Louisiana decision that juveniles cannot be sentenced to Life Without Parole. Status: To be voted on the Assembly floor.
  • SB 395 – Miranda Rights for Youth
    This proposal would require those under the age of 18 to consult with legal counsel before they waive their constitutional rights in interrogations with police. Status:To be voted on the Assembly floor.

Sen. Lara is chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and was first elected to the Legislature in 2010. He represents nearly 1 million residents of Senate District 33, which includes Long Beach and the Southeast Los Angeles cities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Lakewood, Lynwood, Maywood, Paramount, Signal Hill, South Gate, and much of Los Angeles. More at www.senate.ca.gov/lara

Sen. Mitchell is chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. A member of the Legislature for more than six years,  she represents nearly 1 million residents of Senate District 30, which includes Culver City and much of Los Angeles. See a map of Mitchell’s district that includes a demographic breakdown of its residents and more HERE. Learn more at www.senate.ca.gov/Mitchell

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