This page was designed to help our clients better understand our California record sealing service. You will find answers to the questions we are most frequently asked. If your question is related to eligibility requirements please take the free online eligibility test.
Simply click on a question to see its answer:
Only arrests that did not result in a conviction can be sealed. (PC 851.8) If you received a conviction but the conviction is later “dismissed” under PC 1203.4, the conviction cannot be sealed. Additionally, cases that led to a diversion program cannot be sealed unless the diversion was a drug diversion under PC 1000.
It depends on the type of sealing. For typical dismissed case sealings, you do not have to apply by a certain deadline, although you do have to apply after the Statute of Limitations has run or once the charges can no longer be filed by the prosecutor. For factual innocence sealings, the law states that the motion to seal may be filed up to two years from the date of the arrest or filing of the charges. (PC 851.8) However, if the motion is not brought within two years after the arrest, the requirement is waived if the petitioner makes a showing of good cause why the time limit should be waived and there is no prejudice resulting from the delay. People v. Bermudez (1989) 215 Cal.App.3d 1226, 1229. Some courts are stricter than others regarding what constitutes good cause. For instance, San Francisco requires more than just not knowing that you could seal your case. We generally win objections to the two year requirement.
It depends on the type of sealing you are pursuing. For factual innocence sealings, the court must determine that you are factually innocent of the charge for which you were arrested. (PC 851.8(a)). For dismissed case and drug diversion sealings, you do not have to prove much other than eligibility for sealing, that you were not convicted, and that the charges cannot be re-filed.
To prove factual innocence, which is not required for all sealings, the petitioner must show that "no reasonable cause exists to believe that the arrestee committed the offense for which the arrest was made." (People v. Adair (2003) 29 Cal.4th 895, 902-903 and PC 851.8(b)).
We show this by using evidence from your case, police reports, witness statements or declarations and statements from you that show that looking at the evidence now, there is no reasonable cause to believe you committed the offense.
It depends. For ordinary sealings of an arrest or dismissed case, chances of success are very high as long as you are eligible. For factual innocence sealings, it is difficult to say without researching your case very specifically. We can do a preliminary evaluation for a fee. If you wish to go forward, we will apply the fee paid to the price of the sealing.
Sealings must be completed and filed separately for each arrest/case. Therefore, we charge per arrest/case (regardless of the number of counts in a case). If you sign up to seal multiple arrests, we do offer a discount on the additional cases.
Arrest record sealing are denied for the following reasons: (1) the judge does not find the person factually innocent or finds that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the person committed the offense for which the arrest was made, (2) charges can still be filed for the arrest, (3) there was an inaccuracy in the court file, or (4) there was an inaccuracy in the application.
No. In order to have your record sealed the case cannot have led to a conviction.
Yes, in most cases.
No. We are licensed attorneys and will appear on your behalf. If the judge requests your presence and it is a hardship for you to appear, then we can request that your presence be excused.
It depends on the type of sealing and nature of the case. In general, we expect a dismissed case sealing to be completed within three to four months. However factual innocence sealings take much longer. Typically, most factual innocence cases take about five to seven months depending on the court. If you were arrested and charges were not filed against you in court then we must wait 60 days for the arresting agency to grant or deny the sealing before we file with the court. If the arresting agency does not respond to the petition then after 60 days we will file with the court. (PC 851.8(b))
While the average case takes five to six months, some cases can take less or more time depending on the facts of the case, whether the District Attorney objects, the time elapsed since the incident etc. We will work to get your case filed and decided at quickly as possible.
While we will work to get the case filed as soon as possible, the courts work on a first-come, first-served basis. If helpful, we will write a letter to your employer or potential employer to let them know we have reopened the case and are in the process of having your arrest record sealed.
If the police or prosecutor objects to the sealing, then we will file a response to the objections. We will also represent you at any hearings to respond to oral objections and to argue your case to the judge.
If your case is denied, we will evaluate the reason why it was denied and then determine the best way to proceed. An option may be to refile with more evidence and we will let you know if any evidence in particular would be helpful.
You will receive a court order sealing the records of the arrest. The order will require law enforcement and criminal justice agencies to seal your arrest records. For factual innocence cases, the files are then destroyed after three years and treated as though the arrest never occurred. (PC 851.8(a)). For standard dismissed case sealings, the case is sealed from public access and only available to criminal justice agencies and for limited purposes.
We are unable to offer a money-back guarantee on our arrest record sealing service, because the process involves a substantial amount of work and preparation and sometimes several appearances in court by our attorneys. We unfortunately cannot afford to offer this low of a price and a money-back guarantee for this service.
No, if your case was a factual innocence sealing. If a case is sealed, then the arrest is deemed to have never occurred. (PC 851.8).
Yes, if your case is sealed under the typical dismissed case sealing procedure. The sealed arrest can be pleaded and proved in any subsequent prosecution for any other offense, and shall have the same effect as if it had not been sealed. California Penal Code section 851.91.
No, if the arrest was sealed under factual innocence. The arrest is deemed not to have occurred. You can answer accordingly to any question as to its occurrence. (PC 851.8). If the arrest is sealed in accordance with a drug diversion program, you will only need to disclose the arrest for peace officer employment. (PC 851.87). If you had a case sealed because it did not result in a conviction, it only has to be disclosed when applying for public office, for employment as a peace officer, for licensure by any state or local agency, or for contracting with the California State Lottery Commission. (PC 851.91)
California Labor Code section 432.7 prohibits an employer from asking an applicant for employment to disclose information concerning an arrest that did not result in a conviction. However, such discrimination happens all the time because it is almost impossible to prove. Sealing the record and completely eliminating that chance of wrongful discrimination and embarrassment is extremely beneficial. Also, employers in other states may be able consider the arrest, because California's law against discrimination does not apply in other states.
If you are required to register as a sex offender, then you were convicted of the crime and are not eligible for sealing. Please see the information on expungement.
To find out if your arrest will impact your immigration case, you must contact a qualified immigration attorney. Our in-house immigration attorney is available to answer questions at 714-617-8395.
No. The arrest records will be sealed and eventually destroyed. The arrest is treated as though it never occurred. (PC 851.8)
The court will forward the order sealing your arrest records to the Department of Justice and other law enforcement agencies in California. Most background check companies, employers, and other third parties receive their information from either the court or the records of those California law enforcement agencies. (PC 851.8(a)).
The court will usually be the first to update its records. After the law enforcement agencies (including the Department of Justice) receive the order, they must promptly update their records. This can take a few weeks to a month.
Sealing does not affect your DMV record, primarily because most traffic offenses are infractions, which are not eligible for sealing.
However, after a certain number of years the DMV records fall off and disappear, unlike your criminal history which never disappears unless you have it expunged or sealed.
After your record is sealed the court clerk and arresting agency will seal the records and files so no one can view them. However, the California Department of Justice can still maintain and disseminate the records they hold. (PC 851.90)
The sealed drug diversion case can still be disclosed by the Department of Justice or court when determining eligibility for a later drug diversion or deferred entry of judgment program. (PC 851.90)
The sealing of the record allows you to state that you were not arrested for the charge. However, on a peace officer application or questionnaire a person must disclose the arrest to any direct question even if it was sealed after the drug diversion completion. (PC 851.90(b))
If your case is sealed, then you can state that you were not arrested for the charge and the record cannot be used in a way that results in the denial of employment, benefit, or certificate. However, the California Department of Justice can still maintain and disseminate the records they hold. On a peace officer application or questionnaire a person must disclose the arrest to any direct question even if it was sealed after the drug diversion completion. Additionally, the sealed drug diversion case can still be disclosed by the Department of Justice or court when determining eligibility for a later drug diversion or deferred entry of judgment program. (PC 851.90)
Typically, most drug diversion sealing cases take about eight to nine months depending on the court.
However, some cases can take less or more time depending on the facts of the case, whether the District Attorney agrees or objects, the time since the incident etc. We work on your case as fast as we can and will assist the court and District Attorney with anything they need to get your case decided.
You will receive a court order sealing the records of the arrest and you can state you were not arrested for the charge (except on an application or questionnaire for position as a peace officer). The order will require the court and arresting agency to seal your arrest records. However, the Department of Justice does not have to seal their records and can still disseminate the information. (PC 851.90)
The court will forward the order to the arresting agency to seal the records of your arrest. (PC 851.90)