Bill Proposes to Seal RAP Sheets

One of the least discussed issues when contemplating a plea bargain between a client and his or her attorney is the effect of a criminal conviction, regardless of classification and whether jail or prison time is served, post-sentencing. People with criminal convictions routinely have trouble obtaining employment, housing, and credit because of their past criminal conduct.

Particularly with the Internet and publication of even simple arrests for low level crimes, prior defendants are haunted by their past criminal conduct until death. A bill being considered in the California State Legislature proposes to address this issue by automatically sealing from public view the criminal records of a defendant once he or she has completed a prison or jail sentence and probation or parole conditions.

Just How Bad is the Problem?

The U.S. Justice Department and the National Institute of Justice conducted a study and found that having a criminal record reduced the chance of getting a job or callback from a prospective employer by 50%. Juxtaposed with the fact that one in three Americans has a criminal record, getting any job is difficult for individuals with criminal records. In California, eight million people have criminal records.  

California has been engaged in an initiative to overhaul its criminal justice system. Just last year, a law was passed to eliminate bail. Too many people are unable to put their lives back together again after they have served their time and have not committed any future crimes.

Mechanics of the Bill

The proposed Criminal Records Bill, would apply retroactively and automatically seal the rap sheets of people whose crimes are specified in the statute. Law enforcement agencies and deep background checks for certain positions would still be able to access the records but members of the public, including potential landlords and employers will no longer have access to arrest and conviction records.

Additionally, some violent crimes, like murder or rape, would not be subject to seal. The California Justice Department would still be able to contest the automatic sealing of a criminal record, but misdemeanors and non-violent crimes will be shielded.

Charged with a Crime in Los Angeles?

Under current law, individuals in California with misdemeanors or low-level felony convictions are able to request that their criminal records be sealed. For morning information about current law, contact the Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer to review your prior convictions.

Call us for a free review of your criminal case and begin your immediate legal representation. The Law Offices of James E. Blatt has two convenient locations in the greater Los Angeles area available to assist you. Call us toll-free at (877) 546-2528 and schedule an appointment in our Beverly Hills or Encino office.