Automated Expungements (2022)

Video Edition Updated

Santa County District Attorney’s Office (Santa Clara, CA)

Population: 1,924,000 | Number of Full-Time Prosecutors: 190 | Contact Information

The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office (SCDA) has developed a way to automate the expungement of criminal records by partnering with the Court and Public Defender to streamline the process and leverage data contained in their case management system to identify those eligible for relief.  The program was devised after Santa Clara used a similar method to expunge records for those convicted of Marijuana offenses after California passed legislation decriminalizing its possession.

SCDA knew that expungements were only being requested by a small number of those eligible and applications appeared to be tied to wealth and access to legal resources, creating disparities in relief.  SCDA developed standards for automating expungement in order to scale up expungement relief.  SCDA determined which crimes would be included in automation and decided on a simple formula for determining what constituted successful completion of probation, a requirement for relief in California.  After settling on lack of a new case filing as the standard for success, they were able to identify and submit names of eligible recipients to the local public defender, who was able to add additional people for inclusion, subject to SCDA approval.  Once the list was approved by both parties, a mass expungement order was submitted to the Court.  After the order was entered by the Court, SCDA utilized the case management system to communicate with state and federal record keeping agencies so that the crimes could be expunged from criminal offender record indexes.