Sealing Arrest Records
Criminal Record Sealing – Can it be done?
As of January 1, 2018, anyone who has been arrested can petition the court to have the criminal arrest records sealed pursuant to California Penal Code section 851.91. What is great about this new statute is that it applies to both misdemeanor and felony arrests! Everyone would agree that it is humiliating to have to disclose an arrest from the past, especially if you are trying to obtain the job of your dreams. Now the social stigma and embarrassment for your past mistake can be completely wiped from your record with the new petition process that’s available.
In the modern technological era, companies, housing associations, banks, and government agencies, perform background checks before allowing individuals to obtain a desired service. If you have an unfavorable criminal history, including an arrest with no conviction, your record is likely to come up during a background check and impact what you are trying to obtain. In order to clean your record and maximize the chances of securing a position, it is necessary for you to seal your criminal records, if possible. Sealing and destroying your records makes it so that items such as fingerprints, police reports, arrest records, and court documents, are sealed away from the public eye, and as such, are not accessible via background check.
Are You Eligible to Seal Your Arrest Record?
To begin the process of sealing your records, you must fall into one of the following categories to be eligible for sealing:
- You were arrested, but never charged with a crime
- You were charged with a crime, but later acquitted after a bench or jury trial (not guilty)
- You were convicted of a crime, but later had it overturned on appeal
- You were charged with a crime, but the charges were dismissed before a trial occurred
The Process to Seal Your Arrest Record
In order to seal and destroy records from public eye, a petition to do so must be filed in the court where charges were brought, or the city/county of the arresting agency if charges were not filed. Before the petition is filed, however, all information regarding the arrest must be reviewed by an experienced sealing attorney to create the petition so that a judge may grant the motion to seal and destroy. After all the information is gathered, the district attorney responsible for your case has the opportunity to contest such a motion, and if they to do contest the motion, a hearing on the matter will be held in front of a judge. Ultimately, a judge will decide whether the petition to seal and destroy a record will be granted. Because a judge has so much discretion on these type of matters, it is critical to retain an experienced sealing attorney so that they may be able to argue your position effectively without compromise. After the motion is granted by the judge, your criminal record for a particular arrest will be hidden from the public eye.
Are You Eligible to Seal Your Arrest Record?
In order to be eligible to petition the court to seal your arrest record, the following eligibility requirements must be met that establish your arrest did not result in a conviction:
- The statute of limitations has already passed and the prosecutor can no longer file any charges against you; or
- Charges were filed against you but they were ultimately dismissed and can no longer be refiled; or
- You were found to be “not guilty” by a judge or a jury.
Please note, a person is not eligible to have their arrest record sealed in any of the following circumstances:
A, You can still be charged with any of the offenses upon which the arrest was based (some crimes do not have a statute of limitations – i.e. murder)
B. You intentionally evaded law enforcement efforts to prosecute you, including fleeing the jurisdiction where the arrest happened or engaging in identity fraud (i.e. using someone else’s name)
If you meet the requirements discussed above, you can petition the court to seal your arrest record in the interests of justice. After your petition is filed, a judge will review the petition to decide if it should be granted. There are only a few situations where a judge has the discretion to deny your petition to seal your arrest record including the following:
– The charge or arrest was for domestic violence and you have had prior arrests for domestic violence that show a pattern of this type of conduct;
– The charge or arrest was for child abuse and your record demonstrates a pattern of child abuse arrests, convictions or both;
– Elder abuse, if your record shows a pattern of elder abuse arrests, convictions or both.
Getting Help to Seal Your Arrest Record
This new law has created an amazing new legal way to clear your arrest record. Although it is somewhat complicated, an experienced expungement attorney can assist and prepare all of the legal paperwork necessary to submit your petition. The expungement team including criminal defense lawyer Karren Kenney at Kenney Legal Defense can handle all of your needs to petition the court to seal your arrest record. If you meet the requirements discussed above, call us today for a legal services quote at (855) 505-5588.