Los Angeles Record Sealing Lawyer

Los Angeles sex crimes attorneyWere you arrested in Los Angeles but never charged with a crime? Where you charged but never convicted? This information is still part of your criminal record and, as a result, public knowledge. However, it doesn’t have to be. Contact the Rodriguez Law Group to find out if you might be eligible to get your record sealed.

Our criminal defense attorneys offer a free consultation, so take charge of your future and give our law office a call to schedule yours now.

Why Should I Hire an Attorney to Help Me Seal My Criminal Record?

You could try to navigate the process of getting your record sealed on your own. However, as with all criminal proceedings, there are strict rules and procedures that have to be followed. One minor misstep could void your petition and stop you from clearing your name. When you hire an attorney, you can benefit from their years of experience and intimate knowledge of California’s penal code.

At the Rodriguez Law Group, our criminal defense team has been handling complex criminal matters in California for more than 17 years. We’ve helped countless clients file for and successfully get their criminal records sealed. As part of this process, we will:

  • Determine if you are eligible to have your record sealed
  • Craft a strong argument as to why sealing your record is in the interests of justice, if necessary
  • File a petition to have your criminal record sealed
  • Identify and serve your petition on all interested parties; and
  • Represent you in a hearing, if one is requested by the prosecution.

Our law firm is ready to help you get your juvenile record or criminal record as an adult sealed. Give our Los Angeles defense attorneys a call today to set up a time to discuss your case with our experienced legal team.

Are Expungement and Record Sealing Different?

Yes. Expungement involves removing a misdemeanor or felony criminal conviction from your record if you were never sentenced to time in a state prison. However, the entire record isn’t wiped clean. There will still be evidence that you had a run-in with the law. It’s important that you work closely with a Los Angeles expungement attorney if you want to clear your name.

Record sealing, on the other hand, removes any indication that you’ve ever been arrested for a crime. So, ultimately, whether you need to have your record sealed or expunged depends on whether charges were filed and if you were convicted.

What Happens When a Record is Sealed?

When a criminal record in California is sealed, the police remove all evidence that you were arrested for a crime. This includes your fingerprints, mug shots or intake photographs, and other documentation related to your arrest. Three years after your record is sealed, these things are physically destroyed.

However, the record of your arrest won’t be gone forever. The arrest will still remain in law enforcement databases. The fact that you’ve been arrested won’t be known to the public, but it can be discovered by law enforcement entities in the future. Additionally, it’s important to understand that this information can be used by law enforcement in the future if you find yourself in custody once again.

Am I Eligible to Get My Arrest Record Sealed?

Quite possibly, if you were arrested in the state of California and never convicted of a crime. California Penal Code Section 851.91 PC states that “a person who has suffered an arrest that did not result in a conviction may petition the court to have his or her arrest and related records sealed.” This means that, regardless of whether you were arrested for a misdemeanor or a felony, you can get your record sealed if:

  • No criminal charges were ever filed against you
  • Criminal charges were filed, but later dismissed by the court, or
  • Criminal charges were filed, but you were acquitted.

You might even be able to get your record sealed if you were convicted, but it was later reversed or vacated.

Who Can’t Get Their Record Sealed in Los Angeles?

Pursuant to Penal Code 851.91 PC, you cannot get your record sealed if:

  • You can still be charged with a crime based on your arrest;
  • You were arrested for murder or another crime with no statute of limitations, unless you were acquitted or found to be factually innocent; or
  • You intentionally evaded the state’s efforts to prosecute the arrest within the applicable statute of limitations.

It’s important to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, even if you think that you might not qualify to have your record sealed.

How Do I Get My California Arrest Record Sealed?

California has strict rules regarding record sealing requests. Here’s a brief overview.

File a Petition: The first thing you’ll have to do is file a petition to have your record sealed. This petition must be filed in the court where you were charged with a crime. If charges were never filed, your petition must be submitted in the city or county where you were arrested. This petition must include:

  • Your name and birthdate
  • The time, date, and location of your arrest
  • The name of the law enforcement agency that made the arrest
  • Any other information about the arrest that is available (e.g., case number, docket number),
  • Details about the criminal offense(s) for which you were arrested, and
  • A statement regarding whether you are entitled to have your record sealed as a matter of right or if you are requesting the action to serve the interests of justice.

The more information you provide, the better. Don’t try to hide anything – it will all be uncovered in due time, anyway. Your petition must be filed at least 15 days before a hearing.

Serve the Petition: In addition to filing the petition with the court, you also have ot make sure that a copy is served to interested parties. Specifically, the law enforcement agency that made the arrest and the prosecutor in the city or county where the arrest happened must be served. Service is critical. If not done properly, your petition can fail.

Wait for the Court’s Response: The court will review your petition, as will the prosecutor who is served with a copy. The court can grant your petition or, at the prosecution’s request, order a hearing.

Hearing: When a hearing is held, this means that the prosecution has serious concerns about sealing your criminal record. This is often the case when your request is not a matter of right. Rather, hearings are usually held when a petitioner asks to have their record sealed in the interests of justice. This typically occurs when someone has demonstrated a pattern of getting arrested and charged with acts of domestic violence, child abuse, or elder abuse.

At the hearing, your attorney and the prosecution will have the opportunity to argue and present evidence before the judge. As the petitioner, you have the burden of proof. In other words, you have to convince the judge that your record should be sealed. The judge can issue a court order to grant or dismiss your petition. If the petition is dismissed with prejudice, you’ll be barred from asking to have that particular arrest or charge removed from your record.

Will Life Go Back to Normal After My Arrest Record is Sealed?

Getting your record sealed can certainly help to normalize things. You’ll find that it’s probably easier to get a job, rent a home, or apply for a loan. That’s because your criminal arrest and subsequent charges won’t show up on a background check. Additionally, you can legally check the box that says “NO” on an employment or housing application when asked if you’ve been arrested.

However, getting your record sealed will NOT:

  • Reinstate your right to own a firearm
  • Exempt you from registering as a sex offender, if required, or
  • Give you the right to hold public office.

Even though you can say that you’ve never been arrested or charged with a crime on an employment application, you might still have to disclose that information in the future. This is true if you run for public office, apply to be a peace officer, apply for a contract with the State Lottery Commission, or pursue certain professional licenses.

Sealing a Juvenile Criminal Record in California

The state doesn’t want your run-ins with the law to adversely impact your future as an adult. However, your juvenile record might not automatically go away when you turn 18. In many cases, you’ll have to take steps to have a juvenile record sealed.

Generally speaking, a juvenile record can be sealed when:

  • You at least 18 years old, and
  • All required sentences and terms of your probation have been satisfied.

Note that you might not qualify to have your juvenile record sealed if there’s a pending civil lawsuit related to your juvenile offense or you were convicted as an adult. Additionally, in most cases, you cannot seal your juvenile record if, as an adult, you’ve been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.

In order to seal your juvenile record, you’ll have to take steps that are similar to those outlined above for sealing an adult’s criminal record. It’s best to make sure that you entrust this important matter to a qualified Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Record Sealed in Los Angeles?

It depends. If your request is not challenged, the entire process can take as little as 90 days. It could take more time if the prosecution has issues with your petition, or if your petition is not filed properly.

For juvenile matters, the process can take longer. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere between 8 and 10 months to seal a juvenile record.

Call Our Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyers For Help Sealing Your Record Today

Clear your name and take hold of your future. Call the Rodriguez Law Group to find out how we can help you take the necessary steps toward sealing your California criminal record. We’ll work hard so that you can begin to move on with your life. We offer a free initial consultation, so give our Los Angeles law firm a call to schedule yours today.