Seal Arrest Records – California

Sealing an Arrest in California

California law provides a legal procedure for sealing an arrest that never led to a conviction. (If you were arrested and convicted, see our page on expunging a California conviction.)

You may be surprised to learn that until very recently it was actually harder to seal an arrest than to expunge a conviction.  In order to seal an arrest that did not lead to a conviction, we were previously required to prove that you were “factually innocent” of the offense. If there was any reasonable basis for your arrest, the court would usually deny the motion.

Sealing your California Arrest under Penal Code, § 851.91

Fortunately, the new law (Penal Code, § 851.91) requires that we simply show “that the sealing would serve the interests of justice.” This is a much lower burden of proof than “actual innocence.”

The new law, however, has some exclusions. For example, if your DOJ record shows “a pattern of arrests”  for domestic violence or a handful of other offenses, the new standard does not apply and we must instead prove “actual innocence.”

Overall, the new standard under Penal Code, § 851.91 makes it substantially easier to win these sealing motions in court.

If you have an arrest that did not end with a criminal conviction, we strongly recommend that you act now to seal that arrest. The law is always changing and it’s important to act while it’s favorable.

If you are interested in having our law firm petition to seal all records of your arrest and were never convicted, you can start today by obtaining and having us review a copy of your official criminal record.

To get started, just click the button below.