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Sealing Your California Arrest Record in Los Angeles

Any involvement with police and prosecutors can adversely affect your life. Even a false arrest can impact your personal and professional reputation, derail your chances to get a job, a professional license, or a loan, and otherwise throw a wrench in your future. Thankfully, California law provides a means for defendants who were falsely arrested or charged with a crime to have those records sealed from public view.

If you have a criminal record and you are interested in having your record sealed or expunged, call an experienced and compassionate Southern California criminal law attorney at McReynolds Vardanyan. Our dedicated criminal defense legal team will review your case and your situation to determine whether you qualify to have your arrest records sealed or convictions expunged. If there’s a way to clear your name and set you on a path to a brighter future, we’ll find it.

How Does Sealing Arrest Records Help You?

When your criminal records are sealed, those records disappear from public view. Those records will no longer show up on most criminal background checks, they will no longer appear in public searches of court databases, and most of the documents generated as part of your case–police reports, fingerprints, booking photos, etc.–will disappear. Your arrest will not haunt you when applying for loans, jobs, schools, or housing. The records will not affect your personal or professional reputation, because no individuals or news agencies will have access. When you’re asked in a job interview whether you’ve been arrested, you can legally and confidently say “no.”

Sealed records are not 100% destroyed, however. Criminal justice agencies may be able to access those records in future investigations for specific purposes, as can certain other public offices. Only the records of the specific arrest will be sealed, not the petitioner’s general criminal history. Additionally, sealing the records does not absolve the petitioner from certain other consequences of arrest, such as a legal prohibition against holding public office as a result of an arrest. For most people, however, the arrest records will disappear for all intents and purposes.

What Records Can Be Sealed?

Sealing arrest records does not happen automatically. You must petition the court in the city or county where your arrest occurred, and you must serve your petition on the relevant local prosecuting and police agencies. The court may then conduct a hearing on whether your arrest records should, indeed, be sealed.

California’s Penal Code Sections 851.8, 851.85, 851.86, 851.865, and 851.87 govern the sealing of arrest records. According to these sections of the Penal Code, petitioners can have the records of their arrest sealed as a matter of right in any of the following circumstances:

  • No criminal charges were ever filed
  • The defendant was acquitted/found “not guilty” in a jury trial
  • The defendant’s conviction was vacated or overturned on appeal
  • Criminal charges were filed and later withdrawn/dropped
  • The defendant successfully completed a pretrial diversion program

Defendants who satisfy any of the above scenarios have the right to have their arrest records sealed upon petition to the court. A seasoned California criminal defense attorney can ensure that you meet the applicable requirements and file your petition on your behalf.

Which Records Cannot Be Sealed?

Certain defendants may be excluded from the right to have their records sealed. Specifically, defendants with a history of arrests or convictions for domestic violence, child abuse, or elder abuse may see their request to seal denied. A court can still choose to seal the instant arrest records, however, if the interests of justice would be served by doing so. 

Deadline for Sealing Records

In most cases, defendants have two years from the date of arrest or the date of charges being filed to request the records be sealed and destroyed. If the defendant has good cause, however, the court has the discretion to entertain a request to seal records after that deadline has passed.

Arrest Records Sealing Lawyer Ready to Help You Protect Your Future

If you have been arrested for a crime in Los Angeles or anywhere in Southern California, our knowledgeable and effective records sealing lawyers are ready to protect your rights and your future. Call the criminal defense legal team at McReynolds Vardanyan for a review of your case today. We will fight for your rights and your freedom.

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