What is a Petition to Seal Adult Arrest Records?
A person who has suffered an arrest that did not result in a conviction may petition to have their arrest and related court records sealed. California Penal Code §851.91 allows for sealing of misdemeanor and felony arrest records for adults. This is a different process than sealing arrest records for people who are factually innocent. (Cal. Pen. Code § 851.8)
The record of your arrest may be sealed if:
- You were arrested, but criminal charges were not filed within the statute of limitations or
- You were charged but the case was dismissed and cannot be refiled or
- You were found not guilty of all charges or
- You were convicted, but your conviction was overturned on appeal and the case cannot be refiled.
The record of your arrest will not be sealed if:
- You were convicted and the conviction has not been overturned or
- You can still be charged because the statute of limitations has not run or
- You intentionally evaded law enforcement efforts to prosecute you.
What is the statute of limitations?
The Statute of Limitations is different for different crimes. Below are the general rules, but be aware there are many exceptions these general rules.
- Misdemeanor Cases: Prosecutors must file charges for most, but not all, misdemeanor cases within one year from the date of the offense.
- Sex Cases: The rules for sex cases are complex, but generally there is no statute of limitations for a felony sex case involving a child victim.
- Murder Cases: No statute of limitations.
- Other Felony Cases: The Statute of Limitations often depends on the maximum punishment for the charge. Prosecutors must generally file felony cases within three years if the maximum punishment for the charge is less than eight years. Prosecutors must generally file charges within six years if the maximum punishment for the charge is eight or more years.
What will a petition to seal arrest records do for me?
If granted, the sealing order will:
- Hide the arrest from the public and
- Seal your arrest records, police reports, and any related court records and
- Order that the sealed arrest records, police reports, and any related court records not be disclosed to anyone except for criminal justice agencies and
- Deem the arrest to never to have occurred. This means that if you are asked, you can honestly state you’ve never been arrested for the crime. However, you must disclose the arrest when directly asked when applying for:
- Public office or
- Employment as a peace officer or
- A license by any state or local agency or
- Contracting with the California State Lottery Commission.
Are there forms?
Right now, we only have the Kern County forms. Other forms can be found using Google.