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Can I get my arrest off record and sealed?

Pacifica, CA |

I was arrested 3 years ago for DV although I called 911 for protection. My husband lied and they believed his story. During the booking, the officer asked me how many times this is for me now (meaning being arrested) and I had said first time. They looked confused. Turns out there is another persone with the same first and last name (different middle name) that lives in the same small town with prior convictions. Another officer came in and questioned if I had changed my name. No charges were filed. My husband was arrested a year ago for DV against me. After an investigation, no charges were filed against him. The DA office informed me most likely he lied and the DA thought it would be difficult to prove the case against him. (We are finally divorcing) Can I get my arrest expunged?

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Attorney answers 1


I do think this is possible to seal and destroy your arrest record. Petitions for Factual Innocence (PFI) under Sec. 851.8 of the Penal Code are my specialty. I have done many of them, from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I also give training to other lawyers how to do these petitions. You can see a recent article I wrote about it in California Lawyer Magazine here:

On Nov. 6, 2009 I am also giving a seminar to other criminal lawyers in Yosemite Park about how to do Petitions for Factual Innocence (PFI). I believe I have also obtained the first order to seal and destroy a family court restraining order docket this way. The PFI is very valuable because a mere arrest record can jeopardize occupational licensing, jobs, promotions, child custody, security clearances, immigration, credit applications and insurance premium rates.

The reason I am mentioning all this is that factual innocence is a complicated area of law that is in general poorly understood by defense lawyers, prosecutors, and judges. In addition, the statute itself is very poorly drafted. In fact, the statute contradicts itself as to when petitions can be filed, which is relevant to your situation, because there is a deadline of two years after arrest to being the petition. In addition, many judges still believe that if the police had probable cause to arrest you, you cannot get a PFI granted. Totally untrue.

If the petition IS granted, all the arrest and court records are totally sealed and then destroyed so you have a totally clean record again. The court has discretion to excuse late filing of petitions, and I believe you qualify for that treatment.

To learn more about the PFI, you can read the articles on my website here, or call me for a free consultation to see if I can help you:


Good luck.

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