PC 851.91 Who is Eligible for Sealing Arrest Records?

The law allowing individuals to petition the court to seal their criminal arrest records has been revised by California legislature.  The new statute, Penal Code section 851.91, addresses the unfortunate social stigma from being arrested, especially in the case where the charges are dismissed or you are found not guilty.  It is now possible to seal and destroy your arrest record without proving to the court you are factually innocent, a difficult standard to meet.

The new law applies to you if the statute of limitations for the prosecutor to charge you has passed, (one year for a misdemeanor and usually three years for a felony), or you were charged in court, but the case was later dismissed or you were found not guilty after trial.  There are some exceptions when dealing with a government agency, but for most purposes, after the court orders the sealing and destruction of the records, you can affirmatively declare you have not been arrested in that case.  For those who were never convicted but have been arrested, PC 851.91 recognizes the non-conviction and thus the issue of an arrest record negatively affecting the life of an individual who cannot be charged for the alleged crime.

How to Seal Arrest Records?

There is only one way to seal your arrest record; obtain an order from a judge in the jurisdiction where the arrest took place or where the case was filed.  A hearing must be held to determine the specifics of your case/arrest and the eligibility for sealing the records.

Eligibility Requirements for Sealing Arrest Records Under PC 851.91 –

Not just anyone can seal their arrest records–and in some instances it is very difficult.

Eligible individuals are not necessarily guaranteed their records will be sealed.  In some circumstances it is in the judge’s power and discretion to grant or deny your petition. These instances pertain to domestic violence and patterns of either child or elder abuse. These sorts of crimes involve vulnerable groups that often are family members and live together. It’s fitting that the court  is bestowed the task of identifying a pattern of arrests around domestic abuse charges so that she or he does not seal a record, which may, in conjunction with many similar arrest records, point to a pattern of misconduct by the individual.  Additionally, the judge must consider prior criminal records, evidence regarding the arrest, evidence regarding individual’s good moral character and any hardships caused by the arrest.  This is the kind of comprehensive evaluation of your arrest and circumstances the attorneys at Ferrentino & Associates, Inc. develops to present the most compelling argument that you deserve relief, no matter your charges.

Contact us today if you are interested in clearing up your arrest record.