Criminal justice information in California is largely inaccessible via public records laws. Gathering any significant information requires the approval of agencies to whom California law grants wide discretion in deciding to permit public inspection or release of records.
Assembly Bill 1076 is related to relief of criminal conviction records. Pursuant to this bill, the California Department of Justice will be required to review statewide criminal justice databases and identify individuals that are eligible for relief of their arrest or conviction records from disclosure. Following review, the CA DOJ will be required to automatically grant relief to any eligible individual, without requiring a petition or motion for relief. Accordingly, the CA DOJ will be required to update relative state criminal history information and submit a notice to corresponding superior court(s) to document relief granted. In follow up, a prosecuting attorney or probation department is authorized to file a petition to prohibit granted relief. Should a court thereby favor said petition, this bill would prohibit the CA COJ from automatically granting relief. AB 1076 commences January 1, 2021.
Assembly Bill 1331 is aimed at improving the quality of criminal justice data throughout the state of California. Accordingly, this bill requires all criminal justice agencies to report a summary of arrests, pretrial proceedings, case disposition, sentencing, incarceration, rehabilitation, and release using person-level and case-level identifiers, to the California Department of Justice. Notably, the superior court(s) that lead case disposition are also required to report a summary of case disposition and proceedings to the CA DOJ and the law enforcement agency having primary jurisdiction. These data collected thereby establish California’s first joint state-mandated local program.
Assembly Bill 2524 is related to the Open Justice Data Act of 2016. This bill required the California Department of Justice to make publicly accessible information related to criminal statistics through a freely available data platform known as the “Open Justice Web Portal.” In accordance with this bill, criminal statistics were required to be updated at least once per year. As such, CA DOJ would evaluate, on annual basis, the progress from summary crime reporting to incident-based crime reporting and report findings before the Legislature.
Senate Bill 393 is related to arrest record sealing. This bill established a uniform process for individuals to petition the court to seal arrest records and required criminal records at the local and state level be updated by the California Department of Justice to ensure records were accurate sealed. In accordance with SB 393, section 851.91 was added to the California Penal Code to allow individuals with arrest records that did not result in a conviction to petition the court to seal that record.