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How To Petition the Court to Seal and Destroy Adult Criminal Records PC § 851.8

If you were arrested for a crime and not charged or charged, but the charges were dropped, then you are eligible to have the police report and other records either sealed or destroyed.

The time to file a Petitioner to Seal and Destroy Records is within 2 years after the statute of limitations on the crime has run. This generally means after 1 and before 3 years for a misdemeanor and after 3, but before 5 years for most felonies (check for your specific felony). If the crime can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor, the felony statute applies.

There is a two-step process to seal and destroy your criminal record.

First, you must file a request with the police agency that arrested you if no charges were filed. Here is the form. My experience is the cops rarely grant these. After you receive a denial or if you receive no response in 60 days, you can move on to step two.

Second, you must then file a Petition to Seal and Destroy your criminal record with the courts.  You need to serve the prosecutor.  The court will then set the case for a hearing.

At the hearing, the defendant has the burden to show that he is factually innocent. The factual innocent standard is a very high standard to meet.  You need to prove to the judge that NO reasonable person would believe that you were guilty of committing the crime for which you were arrested.

At the hearing DA can use hearsay – writings and out of court statements like the complaining witnesses statements to police – to fight against sealing and destroying your records.

If you are victorious, then you an order will be sent to the cops who arrested you and the California Department of Justice ordering them to seal and destroy the files associated with your arrest.

I have had significant experience in filing Petitions for Sealing and Destroying and conducting hearings. Give me a call and let me help you get your criminal record sealed or destroyed.




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