When a person is arrested for criminal conduct but is actually innocent, the charges against them aren’t always filed and the case may actually have been dismissed by the court. When this happens, California law allows an individual to purge any arrest records that may exist from public view by filing a motion to determine your “factual innocence” and destroy any arrest records associated with the crime. This motion should be prepared by an experienced criminal defense attorney, such as Sevens Legal, APC, and must be filed within three years of the arrest with the court having jurisdiction over the offense. A copy of the motion must also be served on the local District Attorney.
The California law describing the process to prove factual innocence is Penal Code 851.8. In order to prove their factual innocence, the petitioner must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was no basis for their arrest. A Judge will hear your case and weigh the evidence presented on both sides. If the Judge rules in your favor and grants the motion, all the records associated with your arrest will be destroyed and removed from all California state databases.
A simple dismissal does not destroy records of an arrest the way a motion to prove factual innocence does. Any records related to your arrest still remains in electronic and non-electronic form. The data associated with your wrongful arrest remains on the books and can resurface for years when any background checks are done.
Unless all traces of an arrest are eliminated, the arrest record could prevent you from obtaining certain jobs, such as teaching, jobs in medical and legal fields, and law enforcement jobs. If you have been wrongfully arrested for domestic violence, expunging of your arrest records will allow you to purchase firearms again, as well as apply for any professional license or credential.
The granting by a Judge of a Factual Innocence Motion also removes the stigma of being arrested on your record. Having a clean criminal record can mean the difference when applying for a new job. To check to see if you have any damaging files on your record that may surface in the future, you can go to the California Department of Justice Arrest Records website at http://oag.ca.gov/fingerprints/security/ . To receive a copy of any criminal history record you must submit fingerprint images, a processing fee, and fill out the indicated application form.
If you have been wrongfully arrested and charged with a crime, you need the expert and extensive experience of a criminal defense attorney such as Sevens Legal, APC. Contact Sevens Legal, APC, today for a free consultation.