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Sealing Arrest Records in California

Posted by Michael Geller | Aug 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

Having an arrest on your record can haunt you for years into the future, even if any criminal charges were dropped or you were exonerated in a court of law by a jury of your peers. An arrest record can negatively impact your professional life and even your personal life. This is why The Geller Firm stands ready to help you remove the stigma of your arrest record by getting it sealed from public view. 

Prerequisites You Must Meet In Order to Have Your Arrest Records Sealed in California

In order to qualify for either the Factual Innocence or CARE Act arrest record sealing, all of the following must be met:

  • You were arrested, but not convicted
  • Did not make a guilty or no contest plea, and
  • Did not have your case dismissed as part of an expungement procedure

If a judge believes that you deserve it, courts sometimes grant California arrest record sealing even when they regularly do not. We can let you know if your situation is one in which it would be worth it to apply for an arrest record sealing despite having facts which are not optimal.

Sealing an Arrest Record Due to Factual Innocence 

In accordance with California Penal Code Section 851.8, an individual requesting their arrest record be sealed must demonstrate what is known as “factual innocence.” This means that they must demonstrate that there was no reasonable cause to believe that the person arrested committed the offense for which the arrest was made. In other words, they do not have to prove that they are innocent of the underlying offense, but that there was no reasonable grounds for the arresting agency, or police department, to believe that the person may have committed the criminal act for which they were arrested. 

Sealing an Arrest Record Under the Consumer Arrest Record Equity (CARE) Act

According to California Penal Code Section 851.91, the CARE Act established that an individual can apply for the sealing of their arrest records if they were not convicted of a crime. The objective is to try and restore the presumption of innocence for the applicant and remove any hindrances or stigmas that could present barriers to the applicant obtaining gainful employment. 

The CARE Act went into effect on January 1, 2018 and establishes a uniform legal process for updating criminal records so that credit reporting agencies and the California Department of Justice (DOJ) do not disseminate sealed arrest information. In accordance with the CARE Act, you can apply to have your arrest records sealed if the arrest did not result in a conviction and the following requirements are met:

  • The statute of limitations has run on each offense for which you were placed under arrest
  • The prosecuting attorney who had jurisdiction over the case did not file an accusatory pleading based on the arrest, or
  • The prosecuting attorney filed an accusatory pleading based on the arrest, but, one or more of the following has occurred:
    • No conviction occurred, the charge was dismissed, and may not be refiled
    • No conviction occurred and you have been acquitted of the charges, or
    • A conviction occurred, but was vacated or reversed on appeal, all appellate remedies have been exhausted, and the charge, or charges, cannot be refiled.

Sealing an Arrest Record After Successfully Completing Pre-filing Diversion, Drug Diversion, and Deferred Entry of Judgment Programs

According to California Penal Code Sections 851.87 and 851.90, an individual who successfully completes a pre-filing diversion program, PC 1000.5 pretrial drug diversion program, or a deferred entry of judgment program pursuant to Section 1000 or 1000.8, may be eligible to apply for the sealing of their arrest record(s).

Have Questions? Contact The Geller Firm Today

If you have questions about the arrest record sealing process in California, take action by contacting The Geller Firm. Michael Geller and his legal team is ready and able to help guide you through the sealing application process and will work tirelessly to advocate for your interests.

About the Author

Michael Geller

Michael Geller grew up in San Francisco, CA. He attended the University of Southern California for his undergraduate studies, the City University of New York for his medical training, and Santa Clara University School of Law for his legal education.


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