What Can Happen If You Disclose a Sealed Arrest Record? (PC 851.91)
A new California law may allow you to seal your arrest record if you were not convicted of the crime of which the arrest was based. Under California Penal Code Section 851.91, you are considered not to have been convicted if:
- You were arrested but criminal charges were never filed
- Charges were filed but the case was dismissed
- Charges were filed but you were acquitted at trial
- You completed a pretrial or pre-sentencing program to have the charges dismissed; or
- You were convicted but the conviction was later vacated or overturned on appeal
Having your arrest record sealed under PC 851.91 will make it so your arrest is deemed “not to have occurred.” Members of the public will not be able to view your arrest, which means you will honestly be able to answer “no” if potential employers, colleges, landlords or certain licensing agencies ask if you have ever been arrested.
However, sealing your arrest record does not erase it from history.
Who Can See a Sealed Arrest Record?
Members of the public will not be able to see your arrest record if it is sealed under PC 851.91. However, criminal justice agencies may access and disclose any sealed arrests to other law enforcement agencies in the regular course of its duties.
You will also have to disclose your arrest when applying for:
- Public office
- Employment as a peace officer
- Licensing by any state or local agency, or
- A contract with the California State Lottery Commission
Additionally, your sealed arrest record may be used against you if you are charged with any new crimes.
So, what happens if someone knows you have an arrest on your record and that person chooses to reveal your arrest after it has been sealed under PC 851.91?
What Happens if Someone Reveals My Sealed Record?
If your petition to have your arrest record sealed is granted under PC 851.91, members of the public will no longer be able to see your arrest. But what happens if someone knows of your arrest and decides to reveal it?
PC 851.91 protects you in case this happens. If your sealed arrest record is released, the person who revealed the arrest faces potential civil penalties of between $500 and $2,500 for each violation. A city attorney, district attorney or attorney general can enforce this penalty.
In addition, you have a right to bring a lawsuit against that person for compensatory damages or punitive damages (depending upon the circumstances of the case).
Speak to Wallin & Klarich Today About Sealing Your Arrest Record
If you or someone you know wishes to seal an arrest record, you should contact Wallin & Klarich immediately. Our skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich understand how this new law works and we can help you determine if you are eligible to have your arrest record sealed under PC 851.91. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available near you no matter where you work or live.
Call our law firm today at (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.