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Factual Innocence Letter?

Los Angeles, CA |

Penal Code 851.8 says that "(f) In any case where a person who has been arrested is granted relief pursuant to subdivision (a) or (b), the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the offense or court shall issue a written declaration to the arrestee stating that it is the determination of the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the offense or court that the arrestee is factually innocent of the charges for which the person was arrested and that the arrestee is thereby exonerated. "

In my case, I had the court issue the PFI after the prelim. While I got a 6-page ruling with from the presiding judge, which simply ended with "the petition is granted." I never got anything specifically saying that I was found factually innocent and I was thereby exonerated. Any idea why?

Attorney Answers 6


  1. Lawyers and judges speak a different language. Granting your petition is what the judge did. Your petition was for a finding of factual innocence. To the judge, it would be redundant. Law enforcement agencies and the DOJ must seal and eventually destroy your arrest record. That's your exoneration.


  2. You petitioned to be found factually innocent. Your petition was granted. The granting of your petition is the legalese of saying you're factually innocent. You now reap the benefits of 851.8 - the sealing and destruction if your arrest records.

    Congratulations.

    The above answer is for general information only and is based on the information you posted. Every case is fact dependent, so to get a thorough analysis of your situation, you will need to consult face to face with an attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where the incident took place. Do not conclusively rely on any information posted online when deciding what to do about your case.


  3. "The petition is granted" is just another way of saying you were found factually innocent by the court pursuant to Penal Code 851.8. I always remind my clients that the courts are busy, and that it is important to obtain a certified copy of the "Order to Seal". Mail the Order to Seal to the arresting agency and another certified copy to Record Sealing Unit/Department of Justice at P.O. Box 903417, Sacramento, CA 94203, to ensure that the arrest and charging record will be sealed and destroyed. Congrats!


  4. I have never heard of a "factual innocence letter". If you weren't held to answer to the crime, you weren't charged with the crime and it's dismissed. You need the minute order and perhaps a copy of the transcript with no holding order. LAW OFFICES OF VICTORIA CLEMANS, ESQ.

    This is a general statement regarding law and facts and should not be construed as an attorney-client relationship or a solicitation for same.


  5. By granting the petition, the judge found you were factually innocent. The judge does not need to provide an explanation for why you are factually innocent. Congrats! Now send the original to the arresting agency and a certified copy to the record sealing unit at P.O. Box 903417. You can now list on job applications that you were never legally arrested!


  6. If the petition is granted, then you are 'factually' innocent. Which means you are innocent and that your arrest should be sealed and destroyed. However, there must be an order put out to these agencies in order for that to happen. Copies of the order from the court must be sent to these agencies for this to happen. You may want to contact an attorney to make sure these steps are done correctly.

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