California Residents Can Self-Expunge Criminal Records with New Form

Elgin Nelson 

In an effort to clear criminal records and open up employment and housing opportunities for California residents, individuals who wanted to expunge an arrest or a completed sentence from their record typically can now fill out a CR-180 form to apply for dismissal.

The form, available online, stems from a bill titled SB 731, authored by Sen. María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), that aims to create a comprehensive process to electronically seal conviction and arrest records in the state of California. Records of arrests that didn’t result in a conviction would also be electronically sealed. However, records relating to registerable sex offenses cannot be sealed.

This law streamlines the record-sealing process for eligible individuals, representing a progressive step toward rehabilitation and societal reintegration. By automatically sealing qualifying criminal records, convictions will no longer be visible on background checks, aiming to assist individuals who have transformed their lives and mitigate recidivism rates.

“Eight million people in California are living with an arrest or conviction on their record. Preventing people with a past conviction from positively contributing to their communities is a leading driver of recidivism, destabilizes families, undermines our economy, and makes our communities less safe,” said Sen. Durazo.

This new initiative is groundbreaking because in most cases, you will need to file papers in court and ask a judge to expunge your conviction. This process is called a Petition for Dismissal. The process is almost the same for requesting mandatory or discretionary dismissal.

For convictions eligible for mandatory dismissal, completion of the Petition (CR-180) form is sufficient. However, if your conviction qualifies for discretionary dismissal, additional documentation is required alongside your petition. A mandatory expungement is automatic, mandating the judge to expunge your conviction upon meeting all criteria. A discretionary expungement leaves the decision to the judge’s discretion. 

Eligible felonies that can be contested are based on specific timelines: charges with no convictions that can be contested three years after arrest; arrests without convictions that can be immediately dismissed; felony probation that can be contested upon successful completion, and felonies resulting in prison time that can be contested four years after release if no new arrests occur.

The Alliance for Safety and Justice projects that the new law will automatically seal old convictions for at least 225,000 Californians, with over a million more eligible to petition a judge. In California alone, eight million residents, constituting one in five, carry past convictions or records. Consequently, they encounter nearly 5,000 legal restrictions, predominantly employment-related, with 73 percent being permanent. 

The implementation of this law promises a significant economic boost for California, aiming to address the estimated annual loss of $20 billion in gross domestic product resulting from widespread unemployment and underemployment among individuals with past convictions.

You can access the form using this website,

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