SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju is encouraging an estimated 25,000 San Franciscans to permanently expunge or seal their old conviction records under a new state law that went into effect this year.

The “groundbreaking” law made California the first state America’s history to allow most old convictions on a person’s criminal record to be permanently expunged, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office stated. SB 731 was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom last October.

SB 731 gives people who have already paid their debt to society the opportunity to reenter into their communities with a clean slate.

The law dramatically expanded the list of convictions that are eligible for expungement. It also created a legal process allowing people to expunge old conviction and arrest records once a person has fully completed their sentence, and successfully gone four years without further contact with the justice system.

“SB 731 is a powerful new tool that organizations like TimeDone and public defender offices across the state can now put to work on behalf of individuals with eligible past convictions,” said Public Defender Raju.

More than a quarter-million Bay Area residents are eligible to have their criminal record permanently sealed and achieve a clean slate, according to the Public Defender’s Office.

SB 731 does not apply to all prior convictions. Anyone who is a registered sex offender or violent felon is not eligible. Felons convicted of non-violent crimes can petition a judge to have convictions expunged. 

San Francisco Supervisor Myrna Melgar said, “Without this new law, not only did individuals with records suffer, but society was affected by creating a vast underclass of residents — and their children — locked out of jobs, housing, government assistance, and the hopes of a more promising future.”

Fiani Johnson is raising two biological children, a niece, and a foster child in Palo Alto. Johnson holds two master’s degrees, but an old conviction had a haunting effect over professional and housing opportunities.

“My old conviction has made housing for me and my children really challenging, I can’t volunteer for any extracurricular activities my kids have been involved in at school and I’ve been denied jobs and internships. Getting my record sealed under SB 731 will change all of this. I’ll be able to be more involved in my kids’ lives,” Johnson said.

San Francisco residents who wish to find out if they are eligible for expunging their records under SB 731 can contact the SF Public Defender’s Clean Slate Unit at, or call 415-553-9337. Outside San Francisco, those interested can go to or contact their county’s local public defenders office.

“SB 731 tears down the systematic disenfranchisement and employment barriers faced by millions of Californians living with an old conviction record,” said Tinisch Hollins, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. “Rather than keeping us safe, the thousands of restrictions faced by Californians living with an old conviction record make it harder for these community members to rebuild productive and full lives.”