What can I do with an arrest record if my case was dismissed?
3 attorney answers
Even if your case has been dismissed or no charges were ever filed against you, your arrest record, the minutes from your court hearings and your case disposition still exist as a public record until you take control and move to have those records sealed.
The benefit of sealing your arrest record is extensive since anyone with the ability to run a background check on you that included a rap sheet would be able to discover all of your prior criminal arrests. Moreover, prospective employers or educational institutions can search for your name at the courthouse or on certain government Web sites to try to find information regarding your criminal history.
An arrest record can be sealed if you were arrested and:
* No complaint was filed.
* The complaint filed was later dismissed.
* You were acquitted following a trial.
* You were found to be factually innocent.
To begin the process of sealing your arrest record you need to file of a request with the original arresting agency. If the arresting agency denies the petition a motion will have to be filed with the court in the county where the arrest occurred and your case will then be set for a hearing. At the hearing you have the burden of demonstrating your factual innocence. Once the motion is granted, the court will send the court order to seal your arrest record to the Department of Justice. After the Department of Justice has sealed and destroyed your records, it is as if the arrest never happened.
I'm a California lawyer and specialize in factual innocence petitions. It is unclear whether the D.A. had a complaint filed against you on the arraignment day and then dismissed it when he saw the AA meeting slips, or whether on that day no complaint had been filed. It makes a big difference. Some advice to the contrary posted here is inaccurate. If the complaint WAS filed and then dismissed, you do NOT have to go through the lengthy delay of submitting the petition to the police before you can petition the judge, though the police get a "courtesy copy".
You are wise to worry about jobs, loans, reputation, security clearances, professional licensing, etc. as a mere arrest record can negatively impact any of them. I recently helped a woman who was seriously underemployed EIGHT YEARS after a minor infraction conviction for petty theft. It makes a difference in a lot of ways.
You may review these articles on my web site for further info if you wish. I do go to San Jose on cases.
I am not admitted in California, but some jurisdictions allow you to ask the court to seal the arrest records and any other record that you were ever charged. You usually have to avoid any further charges for a period of time.
Contact a California criminal defense lawyer to get the existence of any such programs and what their requirements are. The clerk's office may be able to give you some general guidance, but to make it happen, you will almost certainly need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.