How To Seal Your Arrest Records in Los Angeles
In California, innocent people wrongfully arrested have a unique opportunity
to have their arrest records sealed and destroyed by
Petition for Factual Innocence, under California Penal Code section 851.8. This petition must be filed
whithin two years from the date of arrest or the filing of a criminal
complaint, whichever is the most recent. If you succeed in sealing your
arrest records, you can legally answer “no” whenever asked
by anyone if you were previously arrested.
ELIGIBILITY TO SEAL YOUR ARREST RECORDS
This unique opportunity is available to people in the following circumstances:
- You were arrested, but no criminal charges were filed;
- You were charged with a crime, but the charges were later dropped;
- You were charged, went to trial, and were found “not guilty”
by a jury.
There is one critical factor in being eligible for sealing your arrest
records - You
cannot have been convicted of the crime you were arrested for. The appropriate
legal remedy for someone with a conviction is an Expungment under Penal
Code section 1203.4. See California Expungments.
The Process for Sealing Your Arrest Records
The first step in sealing your arrest record is to file the Petition with
the arresting law enforcement agency. If your attorney can convince that
agency you were factually innocent (i.e. actually innocent), then the
arresting agency will seal your arrest records for three years. After
the three years, they will destroy your records.
If the arresting agency denies your petition or fails to respond in 60
days, we go to the second ste: filing your petition with the Superior
Court which had or would have had, jurisdiction over the matter. A copy
of the petition should also be served on the prosecutor's office at
least 10 days before the hearing.
At the hearing, the burden is on the petitioner (person filing the petition)
to prove that he or she is factually innocent of the crime. Factually
innocent means actual innocence. In other words, the petitioner must
prove there is no reasonable cause to believe the petitioner committed the crime.
The petitioner may introduce any evidence that supports their innocence,
including declarations, affidavits, police reports and other evidence
that is relevant. The prosecutor can challenge the petitioner's claims
by introducing evidence, such as the arrest report and the arresting officer's
testimony to disprove the petitioner's claims. After hearing both
sides, the judge will grant or deny the petition for Factual Innocence.
If the petition is granted, the judge will issue a court order directing
the police department, prosecutor's office and the California Department
of Justice to seal and destroy the arrest records and all related documents,
leaving no trace of the arrest. This means that all prospective employers,
or anybody else will never see or know of your arrest.
Our Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help
Having a criminal record can affect your employment, career opportunities,
and your personal life. If you were wrongfully arrested and you want to
remove that arrest from your background consult with an experienced criminal
defense lawyer. The criminal defense lawyers at Stephen G. Rodriguez and
Partners bring over 75 years of combined criminal law experience to the
table and will put that experience to work for you. Don't let a wrongful
arrest haunt you. A successful Petition for Factual Innocence allows you
to make a fresh start.
at 213-481-6811 to discuss your legal situation and learn if you are eligible
to Petition for Factual Innocence.