A Simple Guide to Sealing and Destroying Your Arrest Record in California

Posted over 3 years ago. Applies to California, 2 helpful votes

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Many people do not realize that having a “criminal record" doesn’t always mean that you have been convicted of a crime. Merely being arrested (even if charges were never filed) can have an adverse effect on an individual’s ability to obtain employment. This is especially true in today’s tough economy. We have had clients apply for their dream job only to have an old arrest from years ago pop up on their “background check". Even though you may have never been charged with any crime, the previous arrest record can show up on your “rap sheet" and have serious social and employment consequences.

Fortunately in California, pursuant to Penal Code 851.8 , there is a process by which an individual can seal and destroy his or her arrest records. Once your arrest records have been sealed and destroyed, all the records including police reports, fingerprints, and booking photos are deleted. Thereafter, you can legally and confidently say “no" if an employer asks you whether you have been arrested on a job application.

The process to seal and destroy your arrest records can be very complicated and usually involves a hearing before a judge. It is crucial to have an experienced criminal defense attorney that can assist you throughout the process .Our criminal defense attorneys at Valencia, Ippolito and Bowman are available to discuss your case and answer your questions regarding sealing and destroying your arrest records in California.

Below, you will find a simple guide that can answer some of your questions regarding sealing and destroying your arrest records in California. If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

1)What Are The Eligibility Criteria:

If you have been arrested but there were no charges filed by the prosecutor’s office.

If you have been arrested and charges were filed but no conviction occurred

(Case dismissed or you were acquitted through a California jury trial)

2)Where To Submit Your Petition:

If you have been arrested and no charges were filed, you should submit your petition to the arresting law enforcement agency. If granted, the police will seal your records for three years. After three years, they will destroy your records. If you do not hear back from them within 60 days after you have submitted your petition, it has been denied.

If your case was dismissed, or you were acquitted by the jury, or if your petition to the arresting law enforcement agency was denied, you may submit your petition to the superior court that would have had jurisdiction over your case.

3)How Much Time Do You Have To Submit Your Petition :

Generally you can petition to seal and destroy your records in California up to two years after the date you were arrested or the date that charges were filed against you. But if you can show good cause, the judge has discretion to hear your case beyond these deadlines.

4)How Does The Judge Determine Whether To Grant Or Deny Your Petition :

The judge has discretion whether to grant or deny your petition to seal and destroy your California arrest records. The judge upon finding that you were “factually innocent" meaning “there was no reasonable cause to arrest in the first place" can grant your petition and order your arrest records to be sealed and destroyed.

Additional Resources

Sources: http://calcourtforms.com/forms/ca/sd.sdsc/crm220.pdf http://www.expungecriminalrecordcalifornia.com/seal-arrest-records/ People v. Bleitch (2009) 178 Cal.App.4th 292

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