In Los Angeles you can be wrongfully arrested and still have the arrest show up on a criminal background check – unless you seal the arrest. This is true even if the arrest didn’t lead to a conviction. An arrest on a background search is a huge obstacle, and can lead to employment issues, promotion issues, etc. Employments and landlords rely heavily on background checks to determine whether you’re eligible of the job, etc. These people will assume you’re guilty of a crime. People with criminal records face many obstacles that make it virtually impossible to succeed.
There is a solution. You could be eligible to file a Petition for Factual Innocence. This allows to get the arrest stricken from the record. The Petition for Factual Innocence has to be filed in two years of the arrest, or filing of the criminal complaint. If you are able to have your arrest record sealed/destroyed, it’s something you should 100% do.
Who is eligible?
People can have their arrest record sealed if: they were arrested without criminal charges filed, were charged after their arrest but charges were dismissed, or they were charged and later found not guilty by jury.
The main factor in determining whether you can file a petition for factual innocence is if there was a conviction. If you have a conviction, you aren’t eligible and have to file for an Expungement. Our Los Angeles criminal attorneys can help advise you on what course of action to take.
How to file the petition for factual innocence
In order to seal your arrest records, you have to file the petition with the law enforcement agency who made the arrest. This is best done with the assistance of a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer who can help with this type of legal issue. If the agency recognizes that the person was wrongfully arrested and is innocent, then the agency will seal the records for three years. After three years, the records are destroyed. If the agency doesn’t respond in 60 days, or denies the petition, then our Los Angeles criminal lawyers will file the petition in Supreme Court.
A hearing will be set in the Superior Court and the judge will hear evidence, and arguments, from both sides. The court will hear the petitioner’s attorney and the prosecutor. The petition has the burden of proving his innocence by demonstrating there was no reasonable cause to believe the petitioner committed the crime. The prosecutor can challenge the claim by introducing evidence.
After both sides have presented their evidence, the judge will make a decision.