A proposed bill would automatically seal close to 8 million criminal records that are currently available in the golden state.
About The Bill
California residents have a legal right to request certain types of criminal records be sealed. According to San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, nearly 80% of these records remain open. He believes most people are unaware this option even exists.
The proposed bill would automatically seal convictions for drunken driving, burglary and other “low level” crimes. If that happens, these records would no longer be available to the public.
Sealed records will still be available to law enforcement. Police officers would be able to review these convictions if a person is arrested and accused of another crime. They would not, however, legally be available to employers, landlords or anyone else who accesses public records.
The Reason For This Bill
There is an ongoing movement in the United States to create “second chances” for individuals who have minor or outdated criminal records. People who were once incarcerated often have trouble finding jobs, places to live and other necessities. Bills like the one proposed in California are intended to help these individuals.
If passed, this bill would result in the sealing of convictions for residents who served their sentences satisfactorily, completed any probationary time and were not arrested again. It would also automatically seal numerous arrest records that did not result in convictions. Although the people who have these records can currently ask for them to be sealed, the majority may be unaware of this possibility.
How The Process Would Work
The California Department of Justice will build a database of records that are eligible to be sealed if this bill becomes law. It would work similarly to technology that was used to eliminate nearly 9 thousand marijuana convictions. Records placed into this database would then be sent to the county courts where they originated. Once there, the records would be sealed at the local level.
Supporters of this bill believe it is in line with other California policies that lessen penalties and ensure outdated or minor criminal records are not publicly available. San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting supports creating opportunities for people who have been rehabilitated. He stated: "Rehabilitation begins with a fresh start. You can't get a fresh start with something still on your record."
What This Could Mean For California Employers
This bill would eradicate millions of convictions and arrest records in California. Once a record is sealed, it can no longer be used to help make hiring, promotion or other decisions regarding the individual. It would be as if the record never existed. The team at Backgrounds Online will keep up with this proposed bill and provide additional details if it passed.
Employers should also be aware that they may only use current background checks that contain reportable information. If an employer relies on a report that is outdated or provided by a public records aggregator that does not comply with federal regulations, they could be sued or face other repercussions.
Complying With Employment Laws
To help ensure compliance with federal and state laws, employers should rely on the services of a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) that is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). A CRA, like Backgrounds Online, only uses up-to-date records that can legally be reviewed and considered for employment-related purposes.
Backgrounds Online keeps up with current and upcoming laws that affect employers throughout the nation. If you need assistance with your background screening efforts, please contact us. Our experienced team is FCRA certified and available to help you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.