The word expunge is defined as “to erase or remove completely something unwanted or unpleasant.” In the process of law, expungement is when criminal records can be destroyed or sealed off to help improve the quality of life for these people. The expungement of records is often available to first-time offenders. Many violent crimes cannot be expunged however expungement is often used to seal off these record of people convicted of drug possession. Expungement is helpful to those who find it difficult to find a job or start fresh after a conviction and can help someone trying to start a new life.
Expungement law changed in California with Penal Code Section 851.91. The Rudolph E. Loewenstein Law Firm wrote “The great thing about this legislation is that if you qualify under its provisions it is a matter of right and the judge cannot refuse to grant the petition.” The legislation makes expungement more accessible to Californians, leading to a rise in expungement clinics in California. Expungement clinics are events where a person can work with attorneys to clear or reduce their record in order to improve job prospects. While expungement laws vary by state, these clinics have become more and more common in an attempt to help combat rising drug arrest rates that disproportionately impact marginalized communities.
The American River College Legal Clinic will be holding expungement clinics on the second Saturday of the month from February to May. This clinic can expunge convictions from California Courts. American River College Legal Assisting Students will be facilitating the clinics and helping participants file their reports and attorneys from the Wiley Manual Bar Association, as well as the Cruz Reynoso Bar Association, will be present to help answer questions and look over applications. More information regarding the event can be found here.