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 filing a
Petition for Factual Innocence under California Penal Code section 851.8. This petition must be filed
within 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 or a judge (in a bench trial).
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 Expungement under Penal
Code section 1203.4.
See California Expungements.
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 step: 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,
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.
Helping Clients Seal Their Arrest Records in Los Angeles
Having a criminal record can affect your employment, career opportunities,
and your personal life. If you are trying to seal an arrest record for
a case that occurred in Los Angeles, contact the Los Angeles criminal
defense attorneys at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners for a no-charge
consultation. They 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 move on and get a fresh start.
at 213-481-6811 to discuss your legal situation and learn if you are eligible
to Petition for Factual Innocence.