BILL ANALYSIS Ó Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary Senator Kevin de León, Chair SB 513 (Hancock) - Diversion programs: sealed records. Amended: April 1, 2013 Policy Vote: Public Safety 6-1 Urgency: No Mandate: No Hearing Date: May 23, 2013 Consultant: Jolie Onodera SUSPENSE FILE. Bill Summary: SB 513 provides that two years after successfully completing a diversion program administered by a prosecuting attorney, an individual may petition the court for an order sealing the records of arrest and related court files and records, as specified. Fiscal Impact: Potential first year increase in court costs in the range of $125,000 to $250,000 (General Fund*) for increased petitions requesting a sealing order on court records. This estimate is based on the population of individuals who have successfully completed a diversion program and would be eligible to petition the court upon enactment of this measure. To the extent the provisions of this bill increase the benefits realized by diversion program participants and prompt increased participation in these programs, there could be potential future cost savings of a significant amount to the criminal justice system, both to the courts in averted prosecutorial hearings as well as to local incarceration, that could more than offset the ongoing court costs incurred for petitions to seal records. *Trial Court Trust Fund Background: Existing law provides that in any case in which a person is diverted pursuant to a drug diversion program administered by a superior court or is admitted to a deferred entry of judgment program, if the person successfully completes the program, and it appears to the judge presiding at the hearing that the interests of justice would be served by sealing the records of the arresting agency and related court files and records with respect to the diverted person, the judge may order those records and files to be sealed, including any record of arrest or detention, upon the written or oral motion of any SB 513 (Hancock) Page 1 party in the case, or upon the court's own motion, and with notice to all parties in the case. This bill seeks to enhance the benefits of participation in community court programs such as the one in San Francisco, where individuals who commit certain misdemeanor or infraction offenses may be diverted by the district attorney to Neighborhood Courts, an alternative to prosecution, by being referred prior to the case being charged in criminal court. The main goals of this program are efficient case resolution, community-driven solutions, reduced burden on criminal courts, and reduced recidivism. Proposed Law: This bill provides that two years after a person has successfully completed a diversion program administered by a prosecuting attorney, he or she may petition the court for an order sealing the records of arrest and related court files and records: Notice of the petition must be given to the prosecutor and the arresting agency at least 10 days prior to the hearing, and the prosecutor may present to the court evidence in opposition to the petition at the hearing. Upon the granting of the order, the clerk of the court shall allow no access to the court file and records. The court shall give the petitioning person a copy of the order and inform the petitioner that he or she may state that the arrest never occurred. With specified exceptions, the arrest record shall not be used without the person's permission to deny a person any employment, benefit or certificate. The order shall not be forwarded to the Department of Justice (DOJ). The order shall not affect DOJ fingerprint and criminal history records, or any document or record received or maintained by the DOJ. The person shall be informed that the arrest shall be disclosed by DOJ in a peace officer application and that the person must disclose the arrest in response to any direct question on an application for a position as a peace officer. The person shall be advised that the arrest will be disclosed by DOJ or the court in connection with the person's eligibility for any subsequent diversion program. Related Legislation: SB 599 (Perata) Chapter 792/2003 authorized SB 513 (Hancock) Page 2 a court to order the sealing of records of any person who successfully completed a drug diversion or deferred entry of judgment program. Staff Comments: This bill would establish a mechanism for individuals who successfully complete a prosecutor-administered diversion program such as Neighborhood Courts to have their arrest record sealed in the same manner as individuals who successfully complete court diversion programs. The San Francisco Neighborhood Courts program has served over 700 cases to date, representing individuals arrested for 500 misdemeanor and 200 infraction offenses. Successful participants from community court programs who completed the program at least two years ago would be eligible to petition for the sealing of records upon enactment of this measure, resulting in an increase in court costs to hold hearings for about 511 individuals, based on an estimated number of participants who will have successfully reached the two-year requirement by the end of this year. Increased costs to the courts assuming 30 minutes to one-hour for each petition is estimated at $128,000 to $255,500. The provisions of this bill could increase the benefits realized by diversion program participants and prompt increased participation in these programs. By diverting low-level offenders from prosecution and keeping potential convictions off their records, this bill could remove barriers to community participation and the ability to secure stable employment. Increased participation in community court programs could result in significant future cost savings to the criminal justice system, both to the courts in averted prosecutorial hearings, as well as in local incarceration costs.