Welcome to the Rising Scholars Network Clean Slate Program!
The Rising Scholars Network is teaming up with The Access Project (TAP) to provide free post-conviction legal services to our students. Expunging your record and reducing your felonies, wherever possible, can make a difference when you are applying for jobs, looking for housing, and working to put the justice system behind you.
TAP lawyer-volunteers will guide you through the expungement and felony reduction process from getting a copy of your record through a final hearing of your case.
Students will need to commit to see the process through and stay in communication with TAP. All services are free, and fees for record collection and court filing are covered.
Check out the links below for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Clean Slate?
We use the term “clean slate” to refer to a patchwork of state laws that allow people to change their records after convictions through dismissals or reduction to a lower level of severity.
These laws are known by many names, such as “post-conviction relief” or “second chance remedies” or just “expungement. ‘
What is felony reduction?
Some types of felonies can be reduced to misdemeanors. For example, Prop. 64 reduces some marijuana offenses to misdemeanors, and Prop 47 reduces some common lower-level property and drug crimes. Some other felonies can be reduced to misdemeanors if the court decides to grant the reduction.
What is an expungement?
In California, some convictions can be “expunged,” which allows you to withdraw your plea of guilty and have your case dismissed. Dismissal of your conviction releases you from some of the consequences of past justice involvement. See the FAQ page for more details about what expungement does and does not do for you.
Am I eligible for help?
All Rising Scholars (whether currently enrolled or not) are eligible to have TAP check their records for free to see if they have convictions that can be reduced or dismissed. TAP won’t know if your convictions can be addressed without seeing your record. See the FAQ page for more details about eligibility.
What if I was sentenced to prison?
New laws have been passed recently to make expungement available to more people who have served a prison sentence. We recommend that if you are uncertain whether you qualify for relief at this time, you take steps to get a copy of your RAP so that an attorney can provide legal guidance. See the FAQ page for more details.
How do I get my record?
You will need to submit your fingerprints to the California Department of Justice to get your RAP sheet. The Access Project will guide you through the process step by step and will cover the fees. See the Live Scan page for more information.
How long does the process take?
The process can take 2-6 months in total, depending on both how quickly you are able to write your personal statement and gather supporting documents, and on the backlog of the court to which you are applying for relief.
Will I need to write a personal statement?
Some cases are “mandatory” meaning that the court must grant your petition. In others, the judge has discretion on whether or not to grant your petition. This means that it is up to the judge to determine whether granting your relief is “in the interests of justice.” When petitions are discretionary with the court, you must write a personal statement telling the judge about the positive steps you have taken in your life since your last conviction, and why you are hoping to expunge your record. It is also helpful to gather letters of support from those who can speak to your record of rehabilitation, and certificates, diplomas or any other documents that you would like the judge to see.
How much will this cost?
All costs for reviewing your record and applying for relief, including Live Scan fees and court filing costs, will be covered by The Access Project. In limited circumstances, after a successful petition, the court may charge a fee of $60-$240 that The Access Project cannot cover. We will help you file a fee waiver to try to avoid this cost.
What if I owe fines or restitution?
Owing fines, fees, or restitution for a conviction does not bar a person from filing for relief, but the judge may take debts into account in deciding whether to grant your application. Expungement does not automatically erase the debt, but in some cases you can ask the judge to cancel or lower it. See the FAQ page for more details.