New California Law Allows Arrest Records to Be Sealed (PC 851.91)
Every year, there are more than one million people arrested in California. Many of these cases do not result in a conviction. Yet, the person who was arrested will have to live with the negative social stigma and embarrassment that comes with having an arrest on his or her record. For this reason, California lawmakers recently passed a law that allows arrest records to be sealed if the arrestee was not convicted of the crime.
In 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 393 into law. That law went into effect on January 1, 2018, and it means that people who were arrested but never convicted may be able to have their arrest record sealed.
The CARE Act (PC 851.91)
Known as “The CARE Act,” SB 393 drastically changed the law under California Penal Code Section 851. It amended several subsections of the law and added a few new subsections.
The most important change is adding PC 851.91 to law, which states that those who are arrested but not convicted of the crime may have their arrest record sealed as a “matter of right” so it is essentially considered “not to have occurred.”
What Does Sealing an Arrest Record Do?
People who are arrested know that they have to deal with the negative stigma of having an arrest on their record for the rest of their lives. Having an arrest record could make it difficult to find employment, rent housing and apply for state licenses.
However, having an arrest record sealed makes it so the arrest is “not to have occurred,” which means the arrestee will no longer be subject to these consequences.
For instance, employers may ask prospective employees if they have been arrested in the past. Having an arrest record sealed will allow the applicant to honestly answer “no.” Of course, the applicant could always lie about this, but the arrest record may show up on background checks. If the arrest record is sealed, it will no longer show up for members of the public to see.
Importantly, there are some exceptions to this rule. An arrest that is sealed under PC 851.91 may still show up on background checks for law enforcement positions and state licensing boards.
Eligibility Requirements to Seal Arrest Record
To have an arrest record seal, the arrestee must have not been convicted of the crime. PC 851.91 defines an arrest that did not result in a conviction as:
- When an arrest was made but charges were not filed
- When charges were filed but the case was dismissed
- When charges were filed but the defendant was acquitted at trial
- When the defendant successfully completed a pretrial diversion or pre-sentencing program, or
- When the defendant was convicted, but the conviction was reversed or vacated on appeal at a later time
Arrest records cannot be sealed under PC 851.91 if:
- The district attorney can still file or refile charges
- The statute of limitations has not run out
- The defendant was arrested and charged with murder but the case did not go to trial, with the result being an acquittal, or
- The defendant intentionally evaded being charged by fleeing or committing identity fraud
Additionally, PC 851.91 does not allow arrest records to be sealed if the arrestee has displayed a pattern of domestic violence, child abuse or elder abuse. The law defines a “pattern” as two or more convictions or five or more arrests for separate offenses within three years of each other.
Arrestees who have shown a “pattern” of domestic violence, child abuse or elder abuse may still apply to have their arrest record sealed under PC 851.91. However, these applicants must show that sealing their arrest record is in the best interest of justice.
The Experienced Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Know How to Seal Arrest Records
Having an arrest record sealed under this new law requires an extensive review of the facts of the case and a deep understanding of the court process. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are well versed in the process of sealing arrest records. We have more than 40 years of experience successfully representing clients seeking relief from their criminal records.
Our law firm has offices conveniently located in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego.
Contact us today at (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.