Clean Slate


Clean Slate is a program of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office that can help people “clean up” their criminal records. The type of cases we handle: Expungements (misdemeanor & felony convictions including, but not limited to drunk driving, theft, prostitution, burglary, drug offenses, domestic violence, robbery, and assault and battery) and Certificates of Rehabilitation such as State Prison Cases.

All services are free if you qualify.

Here’s What To Do

Step 1: Fill Out An Application

You can get an application online, or by contacting us.

Step 2: Turn In Application To Us.

Once we receive your application, we will review your eligibility and contact you with further information.

Walk-in Clinics

  • During the COVID-19 emergency, our office is closed to the public and walk-in clinics are suspended. Please fill out the online application at the link above.

Prop 47 Help

2018 NEW LAW (C.A.R.E Act) to Seal your Arrest Record

In the United States, only those who are convicted of the most serious crimes get life sentences. But everyone who enters the criminal justice system is marked for life. Even a brief minor interaction with the justice system can leave someone with a criminal record and a permanent barrier to a job, housing, education or an occupational license. Most arrests stay on your record permanently even if no charges are filed or you are never convicted of a crime. Fortunately, a law that recently took effect in California called the Consumer Arrest Record Equity Act (C.A.R.E Act) may make it easier for you to seal your arrest record.

If you have one or more arrests in San Francisco, submit an application to the Clean Slate program here and find out if you are eligible to seal your arrest record.

What is the C.A.R.E Act? (PC §851.91)

The C.A.R.E Act (Senate Bill 393) took effect Jan. 1, 2018, which added Section 851.91 to the California Penal Code.

Under PC §851.91, any person who is arrested but ultimately not convicted of a crime in California may petition the court to have his or her arrest record sealed.
This law seals arrest records for those who have been arrested but not convicted of a crime.

Public arrest records will now be private and protected information that will not show up on criminal background checks unless the background check is being conducted by a law enforcement agency (Police, DA, Homeland Security, etc.)

The C.A.R.E ACT prohibits companies from disseminating information about the sealed arrest and imposes a civil fine between $500-$2,500 per violation on those who violate this law.

Who is eligible for relief under this new law?

  • Those who were arrested but ultimately NOT charged with a crime (§851.91)
  • Those arrested, charged, and whose charges were subsequently DISMISSED (§851.91)
  • Those arrested, charged, but who completed drug diversion, other DIVERSION, or DEFERRED ENTRY OF JUDGEMENT (§851.87)
  • Those who were arrested, charged, and ACQUITTED i.e. found “not guilty” at trial (§851.91)

When can eligible persons obtain relief?

  • Although there is no expiration date to pursue this relief, an individual becomes eligible as a matter of right after the Statute of Limitation lapses for the given offense they were arrested
  • If you are arrested for a misdemeanor, you must wait one year before petitioning to seal arrest
  • If you are arrested for a felony, in most cases, you must wait three years before petitioning to seal the arrest

What is the process?

  • Once you apply through the Clean Slate program, we will review your case for eligibility and handle the sealing process
  • A petition must be filed in the court of the county in which petitioner was arrested at least 15 days prior to the hearing of the petition
  • A copy must be served upon the prosecuting attorney of the city or county, and upon the law enforcement agency that made the arrest
  • The petition must include all of the following information:
    • Petitioner’s name and date of birth
    • Date of the arrest for which sealing is sought
    • City and county in where arrest took place
    • The law enforcement agency that made the arrest and any other identifying information such as police report # and court case #
    • The offenses alleged upon which the arrest was made
  • After a hearing is conducted, and the petition for sealing arrest records is granted, the court is required to issue a written ruling and order the following (among others):
    • The arrest record is sealed and the arrest is deemed NOT to have occurred; the petitioner may answer questions accordingly related to the arrest, and the petitioner is released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from arrest
    • Within 30 days of issuing the order, the court shall forward a copy of the order to the law enforcement agency that made the arrest, and to the agency that administers the master local summary criminal history
    • Within 30 days, the court shall forward a disposition report to the Department of Justice indicating that relief has been ordered law

Are there any exceptions to the C.A.R.E. Act?

Yes. If an arrestee’s record demonstrates a pattern of conduct, such as two convictions or five or more prior arrests, for the following charges:

  • Domestic violence
  • Child abuse
  • Elder Abuse

A petition to seal the arrest for the above charges which shows a pattern of conduct may only be granted upon a showing that the sealing of the arrest will be in the interest of justice.

In addition, the law states that if the petitioner intentionally evaded law enforcement efforts to prosecute the case, such as engaging in identity fraud, or leaving the jurisdiction in which arrest was made until statute of limitations has run, then the petitioner may be denied relief.