Record Expungement Unlocks Opportunities after a Criminal Conviction

Many with past convictions may qualify to have those convictions expunged but don’t know about their eligibility or have difficulty navigating the complex process without a lawyer.

Op-Ed (California)

Douglas B. Davidson
Voice of OC
November 26, 2019

Tags: Expungement / Record Sealing

Organizations mentioned/involved: Community Legal Aid SoCal (CLA SoCal)


Even for those who know they are eligible, navigating the complex court process is difficult and designed for those with legal advocates by their side, which most people facing expungement do not have. While possible to do without an attorney, it can be trying to get information about one’s case, find and fill out the correct forms, file with the appropriate court, and represent oneself if a hearing is set.

California legislators have recognized these problems. Last year, the legislature enacted AB 1793, establishing a system for automatic relief for convictions that qualify under the 2016 voter-enacted marijuana legalization initiative. Just this month, Governor Newsom signed AB 1076, which will establish a process for automatically expunging some qualified individuals’ records.

Despite lawmaker action, people will still have to wait years for the changes to potentially affect them. Fortunately, legal aid organizations can help individuals now. Organizations like Community Legal Aid SoCal, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County assist low-income southern Californians with getting copies of their records, preparing the correct forms, filing, and even representation in court. They will review an individual’s entire conviction history and aid with everything available, including expungements, reductions from felonies to misdemeanors, arrest and juvenile record sealings, and certificates of rehabilitation.