What Is a Petition for Factual Innocence?

Having an arrest record could make it difficult to secure housing, get a loan, or enroll in school. Unfortunately, many individuals are arrested for crimes they didn’t commit. When law enforcement detains them, the information is logged and stored. And while charges may eventually be dropped or dismissed, the arrest information can still be accessed by the public and could show up during a background check. Fortunately, in California, an individual can file a petition for factual innocence to attempt to get their arrest record cleared.

What Is Factual Innocence?

Factual innocence means the individual was innocent of the crime they were arrested for. If the individual feels no probable cause existed that led to their arrest, they can request the arresting law enforcement agency or the court to review their case to have their arrest information sealed.

When Can a Petition Be Filed?

An individual can file a petition for factual innocence if:

  • They were detained but not officially arrested
  • They were arrested but not officially charged
  • They were charged, but the charges were dropped
  • They were charged, but not convicted

The individual must submit their petition within 2 years of their arrest. If they were arrested but never charged, they would file with the arresting agency. The agency has 60 days to respond to the petition. If the individual does not receive a response after the deadline, their petition is considered denied.

If law enforcement denies the individual’s petition, or if the individual was arrested and charged but not convicted, they can submit their petition to the court that has jurisdiction over their case.

The court will schedule a hearing where the individual can argue that there was no reasonable cause for their arrest. The burden rests on the individual to prove their innocence. They can attempt to satisfy this burden by providing evidence such as photographs, testimonies, and/or official reports or records.

During the hearing, the prosecutor will present evidence attempting to prove that the individual’s arrest was warranted.

What Happens After the Petition Is Approved?

The judge will determine whether or not to deny or accept the petition. If the judge rules in the individual’s favor, they will order law enforcement to destroy all information pertaining to the arrest, including booking information, mug shots, and any evidence.

Once the information is sealed, the public will not be able to access it, and the arrest will not appear on most background checks – law enforcement agencies will still be able to retrieve the information when needed.

Choose The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch for Representation You Can Trust

If you were wrongfully arrested for a crime, it is crucial to have a skilled attorney on your side who can advocate on your behalf. At The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch, we know having a criminal record can impact your life, and we will work closely with you to get your information sealed.

For a free consultation, call us at (559) 484-2112 or contact us online.