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Seal and Destroy Your Record

How to Seal an Adult Criminal Record in California

If you have been arrested in California, and your case resulted in dismissal or an acquittal by a jury, or indeed, if charges were not actually filed by the district or city attorney, you can petition to have your arrest record sealed and destroyed. The California Penal Code protects individuals who are wrongfully arrested by allowing them to file a petition to seal and destroy their adult arrest record with the arresting law enforcement agency or the court with jurisdiction over the offense. If you can provide the required documentation and proof, your arrest record may be sealed and destroyed.

As a threshold issue, the applicant must acquire a copy of his/her criminal record and complete a “Live Scan Application Form” which must be submitted to any Live Scan site for fingerprinting and requisite processing. There is a small fee associated with the acquisition of a complete criminal history and it generally takes about three weeks for the documents to be provided.

Once your criminal record has been evaluated and it has been determined that it contains any arrests that resulted in dismissal, findings of innocence or unfiled charges, the record must be maintained as proof of such to law enforcement and the court.

Now you’re ready to begin the ‘Seal & Destroy’ process.
If you were arrested but charges were not filed against you, the petition must be directed too the arresting law enforcement agency. It is critical that you include proof that you were wrongfully arrested in your petition because the burden of proving the injustice is yours. You must convince the law enforcement agency that you were innocent. The police will seal the criminal record for three years. After the three-year period, the police will destroy the record. If the law enforcement agency does not respond to your request within 60 days, you can assume your request was denied.

If law enforcement is non-responsive or refuses to comply with your request, you must file the petition with the court. Attend your hearing and prove to the judge that there was no reasonable cause for your arrest. As with petitioning the law enforcement agency, you bear the burden of proof. If the judge approves your petition, anyone holding your arrest record must destroy the records and the request to destroy the records.

If you were arrested but charges were filed against you, the petition must be filed directly with the court which retains jurisdiction over the offense, in other words, the court in which your case was dismissed or a jury acquitted you of allegations charges. In most cases, a judge will tend to agree to order the arrest record sealed and destroyed upon receipt of your petition.

If you or someone you know is about to be engaged in a trial, contact John J. Stanley & Associates for your free consultation. 

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