Sealing Your Arrest in California Just Became Easier

One of the questions I have been asked many times over the years is if an arrest can be sealed after a case was dismissed by the court or diversion was completed. In the past, this has been very difficult to accomplish for adults in California. The previous requirement was that individuals needed to show that they were “factually innocent” before a court would seal their arrest. Practically speaking, this was almost impossible as it placed the burden on individuals to prove that the police were wrong in arresting them at all. Prosecutors would object and this was almost always enough to convince the judge to deny the request to seal the arrest. But the wave of criminal justice reform in California has now resulted in new legislation to allow individuals a realistic chance at sealing an old arrest.

California Senate Bill 393 was signed into law in October of 2017 by Governor Jerry Brown and is now codified in the Penal Code. Penal Code 851.87 allows individuals to have their arrest records sealed as a right when criminal charges were never actually filed, when the defendant was found not guilty at trial, or when the defendant successfully completed a pretrial diversion or pre-sentencing program (such as Prop 36 or DEJ).

As with anything else in the court system, it is crucial to hire an attorney to complete the steps to have your arrest sealed, But the good news is that a dismissal of your case may also now allow you to also have the arrest sealed.


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