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Can I Get My Records Sealed?

Jan. 7, 2022

If you were arrested but never convicted, the statute of limitations to charge you with a crime has passed, or you have been acquitted of a crime in California, you may be eligible to have your records sealed. Having your records sealed provides a number of benefits because it allows you to clear your name and prevent your potential employers, landlords, and others from seeing certain records when conducting a background check.Red wax stamp on the paper document isolated

Reach out to a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to help you navigate the process of sealing your records in Los Angeles, California. At The Law Office of John Goalwin, we assist clients with getting their records sealed in Los Angeles, Van Nuys, Norwalk, Torrance, Compton, and neighboring areas in Southern California.

How Does Record Sealing Differ From Expungement?

When a record is expunged, your conviction and arrest are removed from your criminal record as if it never happened. While even courts and prosecutors cannot access expunged records, they can be accessed through a court order. In contrast, record sealing simply means that the sealed record will not appear on most criminal background checks.

Who Can Request to Have Their Records Sealed?

Under California law, your arrest must occur within the state in order to be eligible to request your records to be sealed. You can request to have your records sealed if any of the following is true:

  1. The criminal charges against you were never filed;

  2. Your criminal case was dismissed; or

  3. You were acquitted.

Each case is unique, which is why you might want to consider speaking with an attorney to determine if you can get your records sealed in California.

Who is Not Eligible Have Their Records Sealed?

Individuals in California may not be eligible to have their records sealed if any of the following is true:

  • The person was arrested for murder or another crime with no statute of limitations and never acquitted or found innocent

  • The only reason the individual was not charged was that they evaded the police

  • The individual could still be charged with a criminal offense

  • The person committed identity fraud in an attempt to evade prosecution

  • The individual’s criminal record includes two or more convictions or at least five arrests for domestic violence, child, or elder abuse within three years

Why Should You Seal Your Records?

Sealing your records means that they will not show up on most criminal background checks. It also means that records of your arrests, including booking photos, police reports, and others, will be erased. If you are thinking of requesting to have your records sealed, consider the following benefits:

  • The record will no longer appear on most background checks

  • Once your record is sealed, you can legally answer “no” when asked by private-sector employers if you have ever been arrested

  • You expand your employment and housing opportunities

  • You may be eligible for more loans, professional licenses, and certificates

  • You can avoid the stigma of having an arrest on your record

  • You can move forward with your life

What is the Process?

The process of getting your records sealed in California begins with filing a petition with the court in which the charges were filed or in the city/county in which you were arrested. Once the petition is filed, the court will schedule a hearing.

At the hearing, the district attorney will determine whether or not to approve or reject the person’s petition to have their record sealed. If the district attorney rejects the petition, the court will schedule a hearing to give a judge the chance to determine if granting the petition would serve the interests of justice.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the process of sealing your records and make sure that you prepare the necessary paperwork and documentation to maximize your chances of approval.

Reach Out to Experienced Legal Counsel

At The Law Office of John Goalwin, we understand how the criminal justice system works, and how it can feel overwhelming. That’s why we are prepared to fight on your side to assist you with criminal record sealing. If you are eligible to get your records sealed, you can put your legal troubles behind you and move forward with your life. Get a case review with our lawyer in Los Angeles, California, to determine if you are eligible to request the sealing of your records.