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California: 1st Degree Occupied Burglary Doesn’t Bar Working in Licensed

California: 1st Degree Occupied Burglary Doesn't Bar Working in Licensed
Community Care Facilities

Convicted felons suffer many civil disabilities, even after discharge from custody and post-release supervision. In California, a person whose criminal past includes a "crime against a person" is precluded from working in a state-licensed community care facility. (Cal. Health & Safety Code §§ 1502(a), 1522(c)(3) and 1522(g)(1)).

The California Court of Appeal, First District, held that the crime of first degree burglary when a non-accomplice is home (an "occupied burglary"), while clearly a serious offense (Calif. Penal Code § 667.5(c)), is not "a crime against a person" for the purpose of excluding felons from employment at licensed community care facilities.

Jane Doe and Mary Glesmann had been denied employment by Rita Saenz, Director of the Department of Social Services, solely because a check of their criminal backgrounds revealed convictions for first degree burglary. Saenz also denied the applicants' request for a no-crime-against-a-person exemption to their statutory preclusion from working in community care facilities.

The San Francisco Superior Court found for the plaintiffs and the Court of Appeal affirmed. The appellate court also affirmed that another plaintiff, who had been convicted of second-degree robbery and had obtained a certificate of rehabilitation, yet was statutorily ineligible for an exemption, raised a valid equal protection claim when persons convicted of more serious crimes such as murder were eligible for exemptions. See: Doe v. Saenz, 140 Cal.App.4th 960, 45 Cal.Rptr.3d 126 (Cal.App. 1 Dist. 2006).

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Related legal case

Doe v. Saenz