I want to talk today about
the process in California to seal and destroy
arrest records. Now, the first question
is who is eligible? The answer is you’re potentially
eligible to destroy arrest records in a situation where
you got arrested for a crime, but never convicted. So that could be because a DA
never actually filed charges, because it was what we called
a DA reject, or it could be that the DA filed charges,
but the matter was later dismissed in court;
dismissed by the judge, dismissed by the
prosecutor, or dismissed because you went to trial
and were found not guilty. So you were arrested for a
crime, but not convicted. If you were convicted in court,
either because you pled guilty, or no contest, or
because you went to trial and were found guilty, then you
do not qualify for this relief. Now, the next question
is how do I do it? How do I get this destruction
of arrest records? And the answer is if
you were arrested, but charges were never filed. So in a DA reject
situation, you have to start by filing a petition
with the police department that arrested you and ask them to
destroy the arrest records. Now, if the police
department refuses or they don’t respond within
60 days, which is usually the case, then the next step
is you go and file the petition in Superior Court. Now, alternatively, if it
was a situation where charges were filed in court, but
you were never convicted, then you can bypass the
police department altogether and file your petition
directly in Superior Court. Now, once you file
your petition in court, the judge will hold a hearing. And it’s called a hearing to
determine factual innocence. Now, normally, at
a criminal trial, the prosecutor has
the burden of proving you guilty beyond
a reasonable doubt. But in this situation,
you have the burden of proving that
you were innocent. So it’s almost like
a trial in reverse. Now, we’ve done hundreds of
these cases across California. And they can last anywhere
from an hour to several days. Many times, there’s almost
a mini trial in court where we present witnesses,
we present evidence. The prosecutor
presents evidence. We argue. The prosecutor argues. And ultimately, the judge
decides whether in fact you are factually innocent. That is, whether you
were wrongly arrested and did not commit the crime
for which you were arrested. Now, if you’re successful–
and we’ve been successful. We’ve been very successful
in litigating these cases. But if you’re found
factually innocent, then the rewards are
very significant. The judge will order
all of the records of arrest sealed and destroyed. Now, that means
fingerprints, booking photos, police reports– everything
gets sealed and destroyed. It gets taken off
of your rap sheet. And you can legally
and truthfully say in any application for
a job, for a state license, for a scholarship, you
can say that you’ve never been arrested. And that’s important,
because a lot of applications these days ask not only have
you been convicted of a crime, but have you ever been
arrested for a crime? And if the arrest
records are destroyed, you can legally and
truthfully say, no. I’ve never been arrested. So when successful, it’s a
great outcome for the client. But it’s a complicated process. It’s not something that
you want to do alone. You want to have an
experienced attorney who’s been through this
process many times and knows how to
navigate you through it. If you’re in this
situation where you’ve been arrested in
the state of California, but ultimately not
convicted, and you want to pursue getting
your arrest records destroyed, we invite you to call
us here at Shouse Law Group. Tell us the circumstances. We’ll see what we can do
to accomplish it for you.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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