You can seal your record if you were arrested, but the prosecutor never filed criminal charges, had your case dismissed in court, or were acquitted by a jury following a California jury trial. This is a two -step process; your first step in seeking relief is to petition the arresting law enforcement agency. If they do not agree to this you must then file the necessary paperwork with the court.
Penal Code Section 851.8 allows for sealing and destruction of arrest records (excluding infractions).
If you've been arrested in California but never convicted, you may be able to have the record of your arrest sealed and destroyed once two years have passed. Section 851.8 of the California Penal Code creates the opportunity to request an arrest record be sealed, but does not bestow an absolute right. First, the arresting agency must be petitioned for a finding of factual innocence, with notice to the prosecutor's office. If denied, the petition may be filed with the appropriate court.
Fill out the proper petition.
Serve the petition upon the arresting agency and the district attorney. Take the petition to the arresting agency. Either hand deliver or have a process server deliver a copy to the district attorney's office that prosecuted your case.
File the petition in court. If your petition is denied by either the law enforcement agency or the district attorney, file your petition in court. If you were arrested by a municipal police department, file in the municipal court. If arrested by a county sheriff, file in either the justice court (if available in your county) or the criminal division of the state superior court. If your case was adjudicated, the petition should be filed in the same court.
Attend a hearing. Within two to four weeks of filing your petition with the court, your petition will come up for hearing. At the hearing you must demonstrate your factual innocence, meaning that no reasonable basis exists for believing you committed the crime for which the arrest was made.
However, it is always advisable to hire an an experienced attorney to help guide you through the process. Fees vary in range from attorney to attorney. Talk to a few attorneys to see who is right for you.
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The other attorneys answered this question very thoroughly. I just want to reiterate that you should hire an attorney to help you through the process. And there is a two year limit on being able to do the sealing/destroying, so do not wait. Contact a few different attorneys to see how much they charge.
The above stated is advice only, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.
If you never plead and there is no conviction than you can get the relief to seal and destroy your arrest records are available to you. If your case is fairly recent and won't have to spend a whole lot of time digging up your case records it shouldn't cost too much. Feel free to ring me if you want a specific consult.
I agree with the answers posted. I believe the cost to file the petition you request will range from $1,500.00 and up depending on what needs to be done.
I am licensed to practice in the state of California. I handle cases from Sacramento to San Diego. I have handled cases in Federal District courts from Alaska and throughout the United States. My comments and opinions are based on California law and are based on the limited information provided in the question. Legal questions are usually fact specific and a few facts can and often does change the opinion I would give. It is better to consult with an attorney in your jurisdiction (your geographic area) and provide specific details regarding your case in private. You would get more specific advice. The contents of the conversations with your attorney are confidential and are protected from being revealed. The statements made in this public forum (AVVO) are not confidential and could be revealed. Therefore, you must be very careful in the details you provide. Do not disclose information that could be a crime or that could be used in order to prove a crime was committed. If you are in California and want to clarify any of my answers, feel free to contact me.