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How to Seal Your Arrest Record in California

Posted by Jason Beahm | Dec 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

Understanding the California Penal Code on Sealing an Arrest

Did you know that your arrest will remain on your criminal record even if no charges were filed? Additionally, even if you were criminally charged, if those charges were dropped or you were acquitted, that arrest and the associated records will permanently remain on your criminal record. This can be problematic for you in many ways.

Many employers perform criminal background checks before hiring a candidate, and having a criminal record, even without a conviction, can inhibit your career advancement. Having a criminal arrest on your record can also impact your ability to get into college, find housing, and even exclude you from working in certain industries or professions.

According to California PC 851.91, if you were arrested but not convicted, you have the right to petition the court to have your arrest and related records sealed. PC 851.91 is part of the CARE Act and came into effect in 2018. This legislature is vital to ensuring that those arrested can move on with their lives without having that arrest hanging over them forever.

How to Petition the Court to Seal an Arrest Record

It is important to remember that arrest records are not automatically sealed if you are not convicted. To have your arrest record sealed, you must file a petition in the city or county where you were arrested. The petition must then be served to both the law enforcement agency that made the arrest and the prosecuting attorney. You will need to work with a criminal defense attorney throughout the petition process.

After your petition is filed, the prosecuting attorney has the option to contest the petition and may call for a hearing. When dealing with a contested petition, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney to represent you in court. At Beahm Law, we have helped many clients seal their arrest records, and we are prepared to use this experience to help you with your case.

Who Can Petition to Have an Arrest Sealed?

The right to petition to have the court seal an arrest record is only available to those whose arrest did not result in a conviction or those whose conviction was vacated or reversed on appeal, and the charges may not be refiled. When filing a petition, it is important that all steps are followed precisely and that all documents are filled out accurately. Failure to do so may result in a rejection of your petition.

Contact us online to get help filing a petition to have your arrest record sealed

The Difference Between Sealing an Arrest and Expungement

Unfortunately, if you were arrested and convicted, you do not have the option to petition the court to have your arrest record sealed. However, this does not mean that a past mistake must haunt you forever. If you have been convicted of a criminal charge, you may have the option of applying for an expungement post-conviction. Expungement is the legal process by which certain criminal offenses are diminished or removed, releasing you from the "penalties and disabilities" that arise because of the conviction.

A successful expungement application can provide you with a great deal of relief. Once your record is expunged, you will not have to disclose your conviction when applying for private-sector jobs. Additionally, an expungement means that your criminal record will not hold you back when securing the professional licensing or certification you need to further your career. Furthermore, an expungement may also help you avoid conviction-related immigration penalties such as deportation.

Do You Qualify for Expungement?

Expungement offers a lifeline to those who are convicted of criminal charges. You can seek expungement for both felony and misdemeanor charges. However, not everyone qualifies for expungement. Your case's circumstances and where you are at in the process will affect whether you can apply for an expungement. Regardless of your circumstances, you need to work with a lawyer familiar with the post-conviction expungement process, like ours at Beahm Law.

If you are currently charged with a criminal offense, on probation for a criminal offense, or serving a prison sentence for a criminal offense, you may not be eligible to apply for an expungement. It is also important to remember that expungements do not overturn a driver's license suspension or revocation. Nor do they restore CA gun rights or affect mandatory sex offender registration.

The benefits of petitioning to have your arrest record sealed are indisputable. Even if you are unsure about whether you qualify for record sealing, it is worth speaking with a lawyer to find out. Beahm Law is just a phone call away, and we are prepared to help you determine if record sealing or expungement are viable options for you. If they are, we are prepared to walk you through the process, and help you deal with any related issues.

To see if you qualify to have your arrest record sealed, contact Beahm Law.

About the Author

Jason Beahm

Founding Attorney Profile Credentials Associations Bio Jason Beahm is the Founder and President of Beahm Law. Voted “Best of SF” four out of the past five years by SF Weekly Magazine, Attorney Beahm practices in the areas of DUI, criminal defense, and personal injury. He is passionate ...


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