For security and safety reasons, many employers now conduct background checks on potential employees. Background checks help one determine whether the applicant has a history of violence or any arrest. Although the reason is understandable, this leaves applicants with previous arrest records at a disadvantage especially if the California criminal records indicate that they have arrests or charges filed against them even though the charges were dropped. With that said applicants who have previous arrest records may file a petition to have these records sealed and destroyed.
Individuals who have arrest records, under the Penal Code of California can file a petition to have the criminal records sealed and destroyed by petitioning the concerned law enforcement agency to seal the reports, records and other evidence pertaining to the arrest. The petitioner should provide proof that they are “factually innocent” of the charges brought against them. Once the law agency determines that the petitioner is “factually innocent”, they would then proceed to inform the Department of Justice as well as other law enforcement agencies that are included with the arrest of the sealing and destroying of the records. The DOJ and the other agencies will have to destroy their copies of the arrest as well.
Some delays may occur in the processing; however, petitioners should follow up with the local law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction of the case, as under the Penal Code, should the law agency fail to respond within sixty days of receipt of the petition, the petition is deemed as denied.
There is recourse open for petitioners who have their petition denied; that is, they have the option to bring their case to the court that has territorial jurisdiction. The court will then hold a hearing 10 days after serving the petition to the law enforcement agency. For the court to declare that the petitioner is innocent, he/she must present evidence showing that there is no reasonable cause and that the petitioner is actually innocent in the arrest. Once the court has determined that the petitioner is factually innocent, the court will order the sealing and destruction of all arrest records. The court will also grant the petitioner a copy of the court order concerning its final decision.
Note that not all cases will be “sealed and destroyed” by the court order, as the order will only apply to the case petitioned. For the petitioner to be eligible for the sealing and destruction of records he/she must – (a.) have not been charged with any case (b.) have the case dismissed and (c.) have a case filed but dismissed by jury trial. Note that petitioners convicted of any crime are not eligible for the “sealed and destroyed” as indicated in the Penal Code.
Access to criminal records ca are restricted, however, there are some companies who offer public search of arrest records that might come up with the person’s name as well as arrest history. With that said, it is important to make a background check of oneself to know if there are existing records. One can do so online, which is a very convenient way.