California Expands Felony Expungement Eligibility with AB 1115

California has passed into law AB 1115, a bill expanding eligibility for felony expungements to those who received a felony conviction before felony realignment sentencing provisions went into effect in 2011 via AB 109. Expungement law already allowed those sentenced under felony realignment to be able to apply for expungement after meeting a waiting period, as long as they were not under any other supervision or facing other charges. This law expands expungement eligibility to those convicted of felonies prior to 2011 who would have been eligible for realignment had their case been adjudicated after 2011. Ultimately, this law means that instead of being judge based on the date someone was convicted, they will be judged for eligibility by the crime itself. It is the equitable application of post conviction relief.

Felony realignment is a California’s policy initiative to reduce overcrowding in the state prisons. It allows certain offenders to serve their “prison” sentence in county managed jails rather than state institutions. This is a very important distinction because those who receive state prison terms are generally not eligible for expungement, however serving a sentence in county jail under realignment is not considered to be “state prison” so the individual is eligible for expungement. It is not entitled, however, like it is for those who serve a term of probation without violation, but instead is conditioned on a waiting period of one or two years from the completion of the sentence, and the relief is discretionary and must be in the interest of justice.

The ability to be sentenced to serve a state prison sentence at the county jail did not go into effect until 2011, so there are many people who may have been eligible for this special form of sentencing had this regime been in place during the time they were convicted. Not only does this affect how their sentence was served, it also meant that they could not enjoy expungement relief simply because of when they received their conviction, rather than based on the merits of their case. AB 1115 corrects this inequitable application of justice by allowing those individuals who received a conviction for a crime that would be eligible for felony realignment had the conviction occurred after 2011 to now apply for expungement. The newly created 1203.42 expungement is discretionary, must be in the interest of justice, and can only be applied for after two years have passed since the completion of their sentence. Judges will be looking at the nature of the offense, the amount of time that has passed since the conviction, and what steps the petitioner has taken to demonstrate their rehabilitation. This law is designed to give deserving individuals equitable access to a second chance.

If you want to see if your case is eligible under this new law please call us at 877-568-0196 or take our free online expungement eligibility test. We have handled thousands of California cases and have extensive experience arguing our clients’ eligibility for expungement relief. We hope to be able to add you to our list of clients we have been able to help achieve a second chance.

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