2021 California Laws That Can Help Immigrants Charged with or Convicted of Crimes

Citizenship and Naturalization
Post-Conviction Relief
Removal Defense
Publication Date

On January 1, 2021, multiple California criminal reform laws took effect. These laws were passed to help all defendants regardless of immigration status, but they can be of special help to noncitizens. Advocates should understand how these laws may help a client’s immigration case. They include: 

  • A reduction in the length of probation periods that are imposed now, and that were imposed before January 2021. Getting off of probation early is useful for immigrants who will apply for naturalization or for some types of California post-conviction relief.
  • New pretrial diversion programs, which can avoid a “conviction” for immigration purposes. 
  • The Racial Justice Act, which provides relief for people who are wrongly charged, convicted, or sentenced based on their race, ethnicity, or national origin.