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Will a 12 year arrest record prevent someone to work in the law enforcement field? Or on any government office?

Montebello, CA |

charge(s) PC 288.5 / PC 32 - There were no criminal charges filed. Arrest was on a adult.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Although 288.5 is a serious offense, you stated that no criminal charges were filed. Since no criminal charges were filed, the arrest itself should not prevent a person from working in law enforcement or government office.

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  2. It is possible to file a petition under PC 851.8 to seal your arrest records. Even though the arrest shouldn't affect employment, once you get a chance to explain what happened (or didn't happen), it may show up on background checks. An 851.8 petition can get the matter sealed completely. Consult a local attorney who has expertise with sealing records.


  3. All applications for law enforcement and POST-certified employment will cause access to your state Dept of Justice (Live Scan) report and your FBI record and both of those will show the arrest. It is important to know that law enforcement employment can be denied for improper conduct, not just for convictions or arrests. So, what really matters is the underlying facts and circumstances, not just the official record.

    In almost every jurisdiction, applicants for law enforcement positions must as a part of the application give consent for a very searching background investigation that reaches behind the entries reported on the official records and reveals the underlying facts and circumstances of the matter. Even were such consent not required (and virtually every jurisdiction requires it), California statutory measures for cleaning up a criminal history record explicitly carve out an exception to the statutory relief in the event of pre-employment investigation for a law enforcement position. In short, it is doubtful that statutory remedies to clean up your record re the arrest will cause any practical benefit to you for this specific objective. (That is not to say that such remedies would not be worthwhile for another reason or just on general principles.)

    All that said, the upside is that the pre-employment investigation by law enforcement agencies is real legitimate professional investigation. Of course, that benefit applies only if your application is sufficiently competitive on the other bases that you are still in the mix by the stage of pre-employment investigation and clearance (not every application is investigated, of course). If you can demonstrate as a matter of fact that there was no misconduct by you underlying the arrest, then you will not be disqualified simply by the fact of the arrest. Of course, "not disqualified" is not the same as "hired," as many other factors will be considered and hiring for law enforcement positions is terribly competitive right now and at very low levels almost everywhere.

    Best of luck.

    My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.

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