In Los Angeles, you can be wrongfully arrested and still have the arrest
record show up on a criminal background check for the rest of your life,
unless you seal that arrest. This is true even if that arrest did not
lead to a conviction. An arrest on a background check can be an obstacle
to employment, promotion, renting or buying a house. Employers and landlords
who depend on background checks to determine suitability might see an
arrest on your record and presume you were guilty of a crime. People with
criminal records face many obstacles and legal barriers that make it almost
impossible to succeed in life.
There is a solution. You may be eligible to file a Petition for Factual
Penal Code section 851.8) in order to get that arrest permanently stricken from your record. The
Petition for Factual Innocence must be filed within two years of the arrest
or filing of the criminal complaint. If you are able to have your arrest
records sealed and destroyed you can legally answer “No” to
the question: “Have you ever been arrested?”
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR A FACTUAL INNOCENCE PETITION?
People may have their arrest sealed include if:
- They were arrested without criminal charges being filed;
- They were charged after their arrest but the charges were dismissed; or
- They were charged and later found “Not Guilty” by a jury.
The citical factor in determining whether you are able to file a Petition
for Factual Innocence is if there was a
conviction. If you have a conviction, you are not eligible and you must file for
an Expungement under Penal Code section 1203.4 to have your “no
contest” or “guilty” plea set aside.
How To File The Petition For Factual Innocence
To seal your arrest records, you must first file the Petition with the
law enforcement agency which made the arrest. This is best done with the
assistance of a skilled and experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney
familiar with this type of Petition. If the arresting agency recognizes
that the person wrongfully arrested is in fact factually innocent, the
agency will seal the records for three years. After the three years the
records will be destroyed.
If the law enforcement agency does not respond within 60 days or denies
the Petition, your attorney must file the Petition in the Superior Court
where a criminal complaint was filed or where the criminal charges would
have been filed. The law enforcement agency which made the arrest and
the prosecutor who filed, or had jurisdiction to file the criminal case
must be served.
A hearing will then be set in the Superior Court and the judge will hear
evidence and arguments from both sides: the petitioner’s attorney
and the prosecutor. The petitioner has the burden of proving his or her
innocence by demonstrating there was no reasonable cause to believe the
petitioner committed the offense for which he or she was arrested. The
prosecutor can challenge the petitioner's claims by introducing evidence
to rebut the petitioner's claims. After both sides have presented
their evidence, the judge will make a decision and either grant or deny
If you want to remove a wrongful arrest from your record, call our office
for a free consultation. Filing a Petition for Factual Innocence is not
a simple process and requires knowledge, skill and experience. We have
over 75 years of combined criminal law experience and will put that experience
to work for you.
at (213) 481-6811 or fill out our online form to schedule your free initial