California, like every state, generates a record when law enforcement makes an arrest. When someone commits either a felony or misdemeanor, he or she now has an arrest record or criminal record. These arrest records are public records and available to potential employers performing criminal background checks of job applicants. By statute, California permits those arrested for a criminal offense to seal their arrest records.

Arrestees must file a petition to seal an arrest record. The Dolan Law Offices are experienced in assisting those arrested in California to seal arrest records. We are proud to help them gain the finality to move forward.

Here are some frequently asked questions about arrest records and the process of sealing them in California.

QDoes the public have access to arrest records?

California regards an arrest record as a public record. As a matter of right, anyone has access to a public record. This right is provided by the Public Records Act and the California Constitution.

QHow does the public gain access to arrest records?

Any law enforcement agency that makes an arrest, records the event as an arrest record. Also, the court with jurisdiction over the case may maintain copies of these records. These records may be accessible online.

QHow do you have an arrest record sealed?

A petition is filed with the appropriate court, usually, the court that had jurisdiction over the charges filed in the case.

QUnder what circumstances is it NOT possible to seal an arrest record?

A person is not eligible to have an arrest record sealed if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • he or she may still be charged with any of the underlying offenses for the arrest,
  • the arrest was for murder or another crime with no statute of limitations unless the defendant was acquitted or found factually innocent of the charge,
  • There were no charges filed because the defendant intentionally evaded the efforts of law enforcement to prosecute an arrest, or
  • the person evaded efforts to prosecute the arrest through identity fraud and was subsequently charged with a crime associated with this act of identity fraud.

QWhen may a person seal an arrest record?

California Penal Code § 851.87 PC provides that in any case where a person is arrested and completes a prefiling diversion program administered by a prosecuting attorney instead of filing an accusatory pleading, the person may petition the appropriate superior court to issue an order to seal the records pertaining to an arrest.

California Penal Code § 851.90 PC allows those persons diverted pursuant to a drug diversion program administered by a superior court or admitted to a deferred entry of judgment program, to have their arrest records sealed.

California Penal Code § 851.91 PC allows people arrested in California for a crime, but never convicted of that crime, to have their arrest records sealed and destroyed as a matter of right.

QIs it still possible to seal an arrest record if a conviction occurred?

Yes, if a conviction occurred, and the following are all true, an arrest record may still be sealed:

  • the charge has been vacated or reversed on appeal,
  • all appellate remedies have been exhausted, and
  • the charge may not be refiled.

2021 is an excellent and opportune time for anyone with an arrest record to consider their options to achieve closure on a past negative life event. After an arrest, the immediate advice and guidance of experienced criminal defense counsel may be crucial to achieving the best possible result in any criminal matter. John Patrick Dolan has forty years of criminal defense experience. Contact Dolan Law Offices today at 760-775-3739 or 562-824-4007 to discuss your situation or find out more online here.

FAQs About Arrest Records


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