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Can I seal and destroy an arrest record or do I have to apply for expungement?

Chico, CA |

I was arrested for 647f drunk in public and the charges were dismissed. I recently applied to seal and destroyed my arrest record but was denied. Was this the proper way to deal with this issue, or do I have to apply for expungment?

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Attorney answers 3


When you say the charges were dismissed this moves the answer into a grey area. If you were arrested and never charged in court at all, you can apply for and should receive from the arresting agency a certificate saying it was a detention only, and it does not count as any criminal record. But, if the charges were dismissed after a fight in court, it could be another thing completely.

Records are rarely actually destroyed, shredded, etc. Sealing is really a myth. They'll be there somewhere if law enforcement needs them. Expungment motions in court are common, and often granted. But, that doesn't remove the file from public view. It just allows you to answer and say that you were not convicted of the underlying offense on certain job and other applications.


A factual innocence motion would result in a "seal and destroy" if you win. That is a BIG "if" because you would have to prove that you were in fact innocent - that nobody could reasonably entertain the idea that you might be guilty given the facts. An expungement is more likely to be granted but has limited benefits. Seek a free consultation from an attorney to see which is best for you. Expungments are typically very easy and should be very cheap.


Expungement is misleading - it's a 1203.4 dismissal - which has some benefits, but only applies to convictions; it does not seal or destroy arrest records. It's not clear to me how you "applied to seal and destroy" your arrest record. Did you file a petition for factual innocence? You should have a lawyer help you with a petition for factual innocence.

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