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San Diego Record Sealing Lawyer

Anyone with a criminal record in California seeking a complete deletion of the record must apply for the sealing process in the California court system. Sealing is only possible under certain conditions for certain types of offenses, such as when an individual has a record of an arrest that did not lead to any accusatory filings or formal charges.

To learn more about record sealing and deletion in Southern California, contact the experienced San Diego record sealing lawyer at the Law Firm of George H. Ramos, Jr. today.

New Laws for Automatic Record Deletion

California Senate Bill 393 recently went into effect, granting California courts permission to delete criminal records that meet certain criteria automatically, without the need for an individual with a record to formally apply for deletion. Once sealed, these records no longer appear on criminal background checks except those conducted by law enforcement.

The logic behind this new bill is to prevent individuals from suffering adverse consequences for a criminal record including arrests but no formal charges or conviction and to help those proved factually innocent remove the worry of an unjust criminal record causing problems later in life.

The new bill does not apply to every criminal offense, however. Some offenses do not qualify for automatic sealing. Individuals with a record of elder abuse, domestic violence, or child abuse should expect their records to remain publicly accessible without specific approval for sealing from a judge.

If a record does not qualify for automatic sealing, the individual with the record must complete a Petition for Factual Innocence to prove to the court there is no reasonable suspicion he or she committed the crime contained in the record. Individuals who must go this route must do so within two years of the arrest.

California Penal Code for Expungement and Sealing

Bill 393 is now codified into California Penal Code Section 851.8, the section of the Code pertaining to record expungement and sealing.

  • Records pertaining to an arrest resulting in no formal criminal charges qualify for sealing under the provisions of the revised code.
  • If a record contains any filed charges that a judge later dismissed, the record qualifies for automatic sealing.
  • Records for cases leading to dropped or dismissed charges also qualify for automatic deletion.
  • If a convicted individual successfully appeals for an overturning on the conviction due to the late discovery of exculpatory evidence, the record qualifies for sealing after a judge has overturned the decision.
  • Some individuals may have the opportunity to complete a diversionary program or alternative sentencing to avoid harsher penalties, such as a drug diversion program. After completing such a program, the individual’s record likely qualifies for sealing.

It is vital to remember that securing a record sealing under California Penal Code Section 851 will remove the record from most criminal background checks. If you secure a record sealing and then the police arrest you for a suspected offense in the future, your sealed arrest record will still appear when they perform a background check on you.

Completing a Petition for Factual Innocence

Facing a false accusation of a crime is a serious matter. Simply overcoming the charges and avoiding conviction is the first step; the individual will still face future problems due to the existence of an arrest record or any criminal record that does not qualify for automatic sealing under Bill 393. It is often necessary to prove factual innocence to have a record completely sealed.

To secure a record sealing for factual innocence, the individual must prove he or she is indeed factually innocent. This could require a ruling from a judge hearing a conviction appeal or evidence that indicates there are no reasonable grounds to suspect the individual committed the crime in question.

A successful petition for sealing and deletion means the arrest record disappears from the public record. All documents and evidence related to the arrest qualify for destruction and removal from the public record. They will no longer appear in background checks. Essentially, a successful deletion means that in the eyes of the court the arrest never occurred.

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Who you hire as your defense attorney can be even more important than what criminal charges you are facing.


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Our San Diego Crime Defense Firm serves clients throughout Southern California including Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, and neighboring communities.