August 5, 2009 By Wallin & Klarich

Insight from an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Many people do not realize that if you are arrested, even if the charges are dropped or never filed, the arrest will remain on your record. If you go to trial and receive a not guilty verdict, or have the conviction successfully expunged, the arrest will stay on your record as well. Unfortunately, even if it is clear you did not commit any crime, a background check will still reveal your arrest. In an abysmal economy, this kind of black mark on your record can make an already difficult job search even more so.

However, there is a way to have your arrest record completely destroyed. The California Penal Code provides that any person whose arrest did not result in a conviction may petition for a finding of factual innocence (PFI) under Section 851.8. This is a process by which a petitioner may prove to the court that he or she is actually innocent. A successful PFI can provide something that a jury cannot: an acquittal at trial merely means the person is not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but does not prove that the person is in fact innocent. A PFI does exactly that.

The result of a granted PFI is that all arrest and prosecution records are sealed, and then destroyed. In effect, this will completely wipe your record of that arrest clean. The law states that “the arrest will be deemed to have not occurred and the person may answer accordingly any question relating to its occurrence.” Cleaning up your criminal record can be of enormous importance when filling out job applications.

When filing for a PFI, time is of the essence. The law requires that you file your petition within two years of your arrest or the filing of charges against you, whichever is later, unless good cause is shown. Good cause can be shown in various ways, such as if the case drags on unnecessarily slow through the court system.

If you have been arrested for a crime you did not commit and were never convicted and you meet the timing requirements, you are eligible to file a PFI. The broad protection afforded by a successful PFI can be invaluable to preserve your record. Wallin & Klarich has been helping innocent people clear their names for over thirty years. Call a skilled California criminal defense lawyer from Wallin & Klarich for a consultation at 1-888-280-6839. Also, visit us online at to learn more about what can be done.

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