California law allows a person that was arrested and charged to have his arrest records sealed and destroyed. To be eligible for this remedy, the petitioner cannot have been convicted of any crime associated with the arrest, he must be able to prove his factual innocence of the crime he was arrested for, and he must apply to have his arrest records sealed within two years of the arrest or the date criminal charges were filed against him (the judge can make an exception to this last requirement under special circumstances).
After your petition to seal your criminal records is granted, the law enforcement agency which arrested you is required to seal your record until three years after your arrest, and then destroy it, along with your petition. Once your records have been ordered sealed, the law states “the arrest shall be deemed not to have occurred” and you “may answer accordingly to any question related to its occurrence.”
All criminal records are public records. That means anyone can run a basic search through any criminal background check company and obtain a copy of your criminal record. These criminal background checks have become extremely popular among employers, admission offices, insurance companies, banks, etc. These reports generally include your police report, booking photos, and numerate the offenses you were arrested for. What many people do not realize is that your arrest records are never sealed or destroyed even if your arrest did not lead to a conviction. Thus, it is extremely important for a person to take the appropriate steps to have their criminal arrest record sealed to ensure that their arrest information never hurts them personally or professionally in the future.
California law states that after a criminal arrest record has been sealed or destroyed, “the arrestee is thereby exonerated. Thereafter, the arrest shall be deemed never to have occurred, and the person may answer accordingly any question relating to its occurrence.”
By sealing your arrest record you will have the benefit of being able to truthfully say that you have never been arrested for any crime. This is particularly important because many employment and license applications not only ask if you have ever been convicted of a crime but also ask if you have been arrested for a crime. Once your records have been sealed or destroyed there is no longer any record of your arrest and you can lawfully state that you have never been arrested for any crime.
- Goodman, Dicus & Teinert, LLP will gather information about your case from a variety of sources.
- Our attorneys will review and analyze all of the available information related to your case.
- An attorney will prepare a petition seeking relief from the original arresting agency that prosecuted your case.
- Our office will submit the petition to the appropriate agencies.
- If the arresting agency denies the petition, a motion is prepared on your behalf and filed with the court in the county where your arrest occurred.
- A notice of hearing is prepared.
- An attorney will also draft a proposed order for the court’s approval.
- The required agencies are identified and served with the notice of the hearing and proposed order.
- Our attorneys will then attend the court hearing to argue on your behalf.
- Our office will follow up with the courts after the hearing and ensure that your order has been fully approved.
- Once the order has been granted the court will send the order to the Department of Justice ordering your DOJ records sealed.
- The DOJ will then seal you fingerprints, booking photo and arrest report so it appears as if the arrest never happened!
* Note that because each case is unique and there are some procedural differences for each county in California your case may not follow our process outline exactly.
How long do I have to have my arrest record sealed?
Our attorneys can petition to have your arrest records cleared up to two years after the date of your arrest or the filing of the accusatory pleading, whichever is later. However, if two years has passed then our attorneys can petition the judge to exercise their discretion to hear your case beyond the time limit based on good cause.