The Access Project was founded with the goal of connecting law firms and individuals in need of free legal services. We leverage technology, provide hands-on training, and maintain strong networks to increase access to justice all over California. Check out our About page for more!
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 of felonies to misdemeanors. These laws are known by many names, such as “post-conviction relief” or “second chance remedies” or just “expungement.”
Some types of felonies can be reduced to misdemeanors. For example, Prop. 64 (the Adult Use of Marijuana Act) reduces some marijuana offenses to misdemeanors, and Prop 47 (the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act) 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.
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 many of the consequences of past justice involvement.
TAP offers its services through a “limited scope representation” program. We offer advice and prepare documents for you, but we will be filing your documents “in pro per,” which means that you will be representing yourself in court if there is a hearing in your case. Please remember, though, that we are always available to give you step-by-step support in representing yourself and are here to answer questions that may come up.
All Rising Scholars – 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.
Next, you’ll attend to an on-campus meeting where we will introduce the program. A Live Scan operator will be onsite and will submit your fingerprints to the California Department of Justice. Within a few weeks, you will receive a copy of your record (RAP sheet) in the mail. The Access Project will also receive a copy.
Then, pro bono volunteers (lawyers at major law firms around the state working for you at no cost) will review your RAP sheet to see what convictions can be reduced or expunged. They will prepare all the forms that you will need to file with the court. If there are no eligible convictions, we will contact you to discuss your situation.
Most applicants will need to support their petition with evidence, called a “declaration.” The declaration consists of a personal statement along with supporting letters of reference and documents such as transcripts and certificates. We will let you know whether you will need to write a personal statement and gather supporting materials. Trained volunteers will be available to assist you. For more information, see the Declarations page.
Once your petitions are complete, we will contact you to review them and have you sign them.
Then The Access Project will file them with the appropriate court on your behalf.
Some courts schedule a hearing for clean slate cases; others decide them based on the
paperwork we submit. If you have a hearing, we can assist you with preparation, but you will
need to attend the hearing yourself. For courts in large cities or which hold Zoom hearings, we may be able to assign a volunteer to represent you at the hearing
You should receive “file-stamped” copies either in the mail or by email.
A hearing date may be listed. This sample shows where you will see it. If a hearing date is listed, let us know immediately by calling or texting us at 415-218-4515 or emailing Info@AccessProjectCA.org. We will help you prepare. In some cases we may be able to assign a volunteer to represent you at the hearing.
If no hearing date is listed, the process depends on the court. You may get a separate notice of hearing later. If a court date is assigned later, please let us know immediately by calling or texting us at 415-218-4515 or emailing Info@AccessProjectCA.org. We will help you prepare. In some cases we may be able to assign a volunteer to represent you at the hearing.
In other courts, the petitions may remain submitted until the court gets around to considering them. For some courts that’s right away, for others it may be a few months. You will get an order, again in the mail or by email, letting you know the outcome. Please let us know as soon as you receive an order. We want to share in your good news! If the petition is rejected, we can help you decide whether to appeal or refile later.
Yes, you may call the courthouse to let them know that your petition was filed and to speak with a clerk. If you are having any trouble getting in touch with the court clerk, please reach out to Info@AccessProjectCA.org.
First, let us know right away by calling or texting us at 415-218-4515 or emailing Info@AccessProjectCA.org. We will help you prepare. In some cases we may be able to assign a volunteer to represent you at the hearing.
It is important that you attend the hearing. Some judges will automatically reject your petition if you are not there. Even for those that don’t, your presence makes a big difference because it shows that you are taking the process seriously and the outcome is important to you.
If you get an order in the mail that says your filing was rejected or your petition was denied, let us know right away by calling or texting us at 415-218-4515 or emailing Info@AccessProjectCA.org. If the filing was rejected, we can correct any errors and refile it. If your petition was denied by the judge, we can help you decide whether to appeal the order or refile later..
Private employers are not permitted to ask about your record until they have made you a conditional offer of employment. If you are applying for a job, please be sure to review this fact sheet so that you understand your rights.
Important: if you have a felony conviction and your dismissal was granted but your felony was not reduced to a misdemeanor, you are still subject to the lifetime firearms ban. Possession of a firearm by a person with a felony conviction is a serious crime.
To provide the best experiences, we use technologies like cookies to store and/or access device information. Consenting to these technologies will allow us to process data such as browsing behavior or unique IDs on this site. Not consenting or withdrawing consent, may adversely affect certain features and functions.
The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network.
The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a subpoena, voluntary compliance on the part of your Internet Service Provider, or additional records from a third party, information stored or retrieved for this purpose alone cannot usually be used to identify you.
The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.