Is there anything I can do to get the government to change the law on Penal Code 851.8? I would like to see that this statue does not have any statutory time limitations.
How do I get the government involved in this? Where do I start?
The STATUTE of limitations is an important part of any civil and criminal prosecution. It help both plaintiffs and defendants requiring actions be brought within a certain amount of time, or risk losing the ability to do so. Time limits are not applicable to some case, and when they are, they are still important.
In order to even start this discussion, you would have to have "standing" to bring any kind of action to declare it unconstitutional. It's not something that will change simply because you don't agree with it.
Just so that everybody knows what we are discussing here, Penal Code section 851.8 deals with sealing an arrest or detention record.
You may petition to have your arrest or detention records sealed if you were arrested or detained, but were not convicted of a crime, and can prove that you are factually innocent of the crime for which you were held. The crime must have been a misdemeanor or felony, not an infraction. (See Cal. Penal Code § 851.8.)
You need to bring the petition within two years of the date you were arrested, or the date the charges were filed against you, whichever is later. However, this time requirement may be waived if you can show the court you had “good cause” for not filing the petition earlier. (See Cal. Penal Code § 851.8(l).
Frankly, I think you have a point about the two-year limitation period. I have not read the legislative committee notes on the original legislation, but there does not seem to be any good reason for having a two year limit.
Under California law, any individual or organization can write a petition to alter state laws. Write the proposed change to the law in the form of a petition so that you can circulate the proposal and get signatures.Specifically state in the petition which law you want to change, and what the specific modifications that you want to make are. You submit the petition to the Attorney General for the State of California and pay a $200 fee. There are procedures to follow, but once on this path it should become self-evident what you have to do. As mentioned above, you need citizen signatures on your petition, and I believe that changing a statute requires signatures from 5 percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. In the last gubernatorial election 10,094,839 votes were cast, which means you need 504,742 signatures on your petition. If I am correct, this is a real roadblock. Another path to take would be to have your state representative sponsor a change in the statute.
Drew Allan Cicconi
Attorney at Law