If you are arrested, there will be a record of your arrest regardless if you are convicted of the crime. Having an arrest record could harm your chances of getting a good job, getting admitted to the college of your choice, or being able to achieve other business successes.
Fortunately, a law that recently took effect in California called the Consumer Arrest Record Equity Act (CARE Act) may make it easier for you to seal your arrest record so that it does not impact you anymore.
What is the CARE Act? (PC 851.91)
The CARE Act took effect Jan. 1, 2018. It amended PC 851 to include California Penal Code Section 851.91.
Under PC 851.91, any person who is arrested but ultimately not convicted of a crime in California may petition the court to have his or her arrest record expunged.
It is important to note that your arrest may still show up on a background check for certain employers (i.e. if you are applying for positions in law enforcement) and certain state licensing boards (i.e. the state bar if you are applying for a license to practice as an attorney).
Am I Eligible to Have My Arrest Record Expunged Under PC 851.91?
To be eligible to have your arrest record sealed under the CARE Act, your arrest must not have ended in a conviction. The law defines “not ending in a conviction” as:
- An arrest was made, but no charges were filed against you
- Charges were filed, but the charges were dismissed before you could be convicted
- Charges were filed, but you were found not guilty at trial
- You were not convicted because you successfully completed a pretrial diversion or pre-sentencing program; OR
- You were convicted, but your conviction was later reversed or vacated on appeal.
Not all arrest records can be sealed under PC 851.91. You are not eligible for relief under the CARE Act if:
- It is possible that you could still be charged with the offense for which you were arrested, either because the statute of limitations has not run out or the charges can be refiled by the district attorney for any reason
- You were arrested and charged with murder but the case did not go to trial, with the result being an acquittal; OR
- You intentionally evaded prosecution by performing an act such as fleeing the jurisdiction or committing identity fraud
This law states that a petition to seal an arrest record is to be granted by judge as a “matter of right,” but there are some exceptions to the rule.
For example, a pattern of arrests for crimes such as domestic abuse, child abuse and elder abuse will render you ineligible to have those arrests sealed. A “pattern” is defined by PC 859.91 as two or more convictions or five or more arrests for separate offenses occurring within three years.
Additionally, the CARE Act states that the person filing the petition to seal an arrest record must show that sealing the record would be in the best interests of justice. A judge will decide whether the interest of justice is being served by considering:
- Hardships the petitioner has faced due to the arrest
- Evidence that the petitioner has rehabilitated since the arrest, and
- Other evidence about the circumstances of the arrest
If you wish to have your arrest record sealed, you should seek out a skilled criminal defense lawyer who can help you file a successful petition.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help Sealing an Arrest Record
Is your arrest record holding you back? Speak to a skilled criminal defense lawyer at Wallin & Klarich now to learn how we can help you move forward in your life. Our knowledgeable attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been helping clients seal their arrest records for more than 35 years. We can help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available near you no matter where you work or live.
Contact our offices today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.