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What Is Arrest Record Sealing?

For innocent people who are wrongfully arrested, California has a process to seal or destroy your arrest record. Penal Code 851.8 provides that a person who has been arrested or detained and is determined to be factually innocent may petition the law enforcement agency or the court having jurisdiction over the matter to provide for the sealing and destruction of the record of that arrest.


In general, when you have an arrest, it appears on a public record that anyone can access. This means that this record follows you wherever you go, whether you are applying for a job, getting a credit check for a loan or finding a place to live. There are few restrictions on what services someone can choose to deny you based on your criminal record. Having your record sealed makes it so this criminal record is inaccessible without a court order.


In some cases, it may not show up at all in a check of your history. Once the court seals your record in California, it is just as you were never arrested.


You can seek employment with law enforcement, California State Certifications and Licensure, Weapon Permits, Student Loans, and Housing Assistance. It also helps you overcome background checks associated with apartment and house rental applications. There is nothing worse than losing an employment opportunity because of a blemish on your record from an arrest that was never even prosecuted.

There is nothing worse than being unable to fulfill your goals of entering a professional field (Medical, Real Estate, Contracting, Government or State Agencies) after years of education because you can’t enter an internship, externship or pass a state licensing exam because of a decade old blemish on your record revealed by a background check.

When we succeed with this process, the court eliminates the police reports, fingerprints, booking photos and all records of the arrest. Moreover, you may then legally answer “no” whenever you are asked whether you have ever been arrested.

Arrest record sealing is for people who were arrested and that arrest did not result in a conviction from all criminal history databases maintained by the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.