Can Arrest Records in California be Sealed or Expunged?
Arrests will remain on your criminal record even when they don't result in a conviction. Sealing your criminal record can be highly beneficial in employment and other situations, or just for peace of mind. It now can be done in many cases.
The prior arrest sealing law required a petitioner to prove "factual innocence" a very high standard that was very difficult to establish; most courts were reluctant to second-guess arresting officers or prosecutors, even if the case was dismissed. Also, these petitions were to be filed within two years of the arrest, see People v. Bermudez, 172 Cal.App.4th 966 (2009)
California law prohibits employers from asking an applicant about a prior arrest that did not lead to a conviction. However, some employers do not understand the law, and view an arrest as a dis-qualifier. Also, many of our clients just don't like the idea a record of an arrest is out in the public realm, with potentially embarrassing consequences.
In 2017 the California Legislature passed Senate Bill 393, which offers help for those arrested but not convicted of a crime. This new law added Section 851.91 to the California Penal Code. Using the new procedures outlined in this statute, a person who was arrested but not convicted of a crime may now petition the court to have the California arrest record sealed.
You qualify for such sealing if:
- An arrest was made, but no charges were ever filed.
- Charges were filed, but no conviction occurred.
- The individual was acquitted at a jury or court trial.
- A conviction occurred, but that conviction was later reversed or vacated on appeal.
Upon the granting of the petition, the arrest record is ordered sealed and the arrest is “deemed not to have occurred.” There are some exceptions to this rule, but they are few; such applying for certain jobs that require government clearances (such a police officer) may have to report the arrest.
We have filed and had a number of these petitions granted, even when sealing was previously denied under the earlier law.
Give us a call to discuss your matter, consultation is free.
Fees are generally $750.00 and include all legal work and court appearances.
800 495 2819