We petition the court to SEAL your arrest record.  

PC 851.8 Factual Innocence Petition

Under PC 851.8 your arrest can be deemed "never to have occurred". Section 851.8 not only seals arrest records and court records, but it also seals Department of Justice records, and requires the eventual destruction of the records.  The burden is on the you, the petitioner, to show with a preponderance of evidence that the alleged criminal conduct did not occur.  The burden is very high and these petitions can be difficult to win.  If granted, you can then answer "no" to the "have you been arrested before" question you encounter on job applications, rental applications and state licenses.  There is a 2 year time limit on filing the petition (unless there is "good cause").  

Petitions for Factual innocence cannot be granted until the statute of limitations has run on the alleged crime (1 year for Misdemeanors, 3 years for most Felonies).  In the case of a Felony, the petition must be filed within 2 years and then heard after 3 years.  

You are eligible to seal your arrest record by factual innocence if:

  • You were arrested and no charges were filed

  • You were arrested and charged, but the case did not result in a conviction

  • You were acquitted by a jury

There are several steps, including asking the arresting agency (Police) to deem you factually innocent and they waiting 60 days for them to respond before filing with the court and serving the arresting agency, district attorney etc. 

Factual innocence is difficult to prove and just because you were acquitted or not charged with a crime in the first place does not mean you are entitled to factual innocence.  

PC 851.91 Petition (The NEW LAW):  Consumer Arrest Record Equity (C.A.R.E. Act) Per SB 393; Limited Sealing to prevent disclosure to anyone outside the criminal justice agency.


California Senate Bill 393 was signed into law on October 11, 2017 and took effect January 1, 2018.  It adds a LIMITED way seal your arrest record with no time limit, by adding California Penal Code 851.87 - 851.92.

If your arrest occurred 10, 20, even 100 years ago, we can still petition the court for this remedy.


Under the new law, PC 851.91, we set a hearing, file a petition, and serve the district attorney and arresting agency (the police station that arrested you).  The burden is then shifted to the District Attorney to show that you should not have your record sealed. 

You are eligible for relief if:

  • You were arrested, no charges were filed, and the statute of limitations has run

  • You were arrested, and charged, but the case did not result in a conviction

  • You were acquitted by a jury

  • Your conviction was reversed on appeal

There are of course exceptions to the rule.  If you may still be charged and the statute of limitations has not run on the alleged crime you were arrest for, you will need to wait.  Intentionally evading law enforcement, or avoiding efforts to prosecute by identity fraud.  Also, if your criminal record shows a pattern of domestic violence, child abuse or elder abuse.  In those case you can still petition to have your record sealed "in the interest of justice."  

The statute says that when relief is granted “the arrest is deemed not to have occurred, the petitioner may answer any question relating to the sealed arrest accordingly, and the petitioner is released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the arrest,” with a few exceptions. The most significant limitation is that the sealing relief provided under section 851.91 specifically excludes records maintained by the Department of Justice; however, the court is required to forward the disposition to the Department of Justice so it can update its records to reflect the relief granted. 

Under the C.A.R.E Act limited sealing, you must still disclose your arrest if you run for public office, apply to be a peace officer, seek a license from a state agency or contract with the state lottery commission.  Also, your "sealed" arrest record can be viewed by prospective employers when applying for a job with a public utility or cable company, or government office.  The good news is that the C.A.R.E Act prevents your sealed record from being disclosed to unauthorized third parties (background check agency).

Keep in mind that California's "ban the box" law (AB 1008) prevents potential employers from asking you about arrests that did not result in a conviction.  However, employers often get around this by giving different reasons for not hiring someone with an arrest record.  '

Among other relief, PC 851.92(b)(2)(A) states that the local summary criminal history information shall include, directly next to or below the entry or entries regarding the sealed arrest, a note stating “arrest sealed” and providing the date that the court issued the order, and the section pursuant to which the arrest was sealed. This note shall be included in all master copies of the arrest record, digital or otherwise. And; (B) The state summary criminal history information shall include, directly next to or below the entry or entries regarding the sealed arrest, a note stating “arrest relief granted,” providing the date that the court issued the order and the section of the Penal Code pursuant to which the relief was granted. This note shall be included in all master copies of the arrest record, digital or otherwise.

What is a State Summary Criminal History Information?

California Penal Code Sections 11105 (a) and (b) provide:  "(a) (1) The Department of Justice shall maintain state summary criminal history information.  (2) As used in this section:  (A) "State summary criminal history information" means the master record of information compiled by the Attorney General pertaining to the identification and criminal history of any person, such as name, date of birth, physical description, fingerprints, photographs, date of arrests, arresting agencies and booking numbers, charges, dispositions, and similar data about the person.  (B) "State summary criminal history information" does not refer to records and data compiled by criminal justice agencies other than the Attorney General, nor does it refer to records of complaints to or investigations conducted by, or records of intelligence information or security procedures of, the office of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice."

PC 1203.4 Expungement for felonies or misdemeanors

Expungements in some jurisdictions may require a showing of good cause and compelling reasons for reduction.  I work with clients to tell their story in a way that lets the judge use their discretion to grant the relief. 

PC 17(b) Petition to reduce felony to misdemeanor

When you were convicted of a felony which is a "wobbler" and were given probation or time in county jail and not sent to state prison, you may be eligible for reduction to a misdemeanor.  A "wobbler" is an offence that can be sentenced either as a felony or misdemeanor.  Once your felony has been reduced to misdemeanor under PC 17(b) your conviction will be treated as a misdemeanor for all extensive purposes, which means often your California guns rights will be restored, along with all of your other civil liberties.  Sometimes the definitions of offenses have changed over time which means it take a skilled attorney to make the argument that your offense should now be treated as a wobbler and reduced.  In addition, Judges have wide discretion with 17(b) petitions and petitions must be compelling in order to be granted.  I work with clients, going through their personal history and collecting documentary evidence, to present a compelling case for why they should have their sentence reduced.  

Certificate of Rehabilitiation - *NEW LAW*

A Certificate of Rehabilitation has long been toothless.  Aside from entering you in a lottery to get a Governor's Pardon, it didn't do much.  Now thanks to The Pardon and Commutation Reform Act of 2018 or AB 2845 which was approved on Sept 27, 2018 and amends Government Code §12952, it finally has some teeth!  

Under the new law:

  • An employer with 5 or more employees is prohibited from considering or asking about convictions where the person has received a pardon or certificate of rehabilitation (certain exceptions apply: jobs where background check is require by law, jobs with a criminal justice agency, as defined in Section 13101 of the Penal Code, jobs as a Farm Labor Contractor, as described in Section 1685 of the Labor Code, and jobs were self-regulatory agencies, such as in finance, restrict employment by criminal history.  

  • Restores your civil rights except for 2nd Amendment rights

  • You may not be denied public licensing or employment based on your conviction

  • It is official proof that you have been rehabilitated to the satisfaction of the criminal justice system

As usual, it automatically acts as an application for a Governor’s Pardon.  

Not sure what is on your criminal record?

The DOJ keeps your criminal history records.  You can request a copy by going to the following link and following the instruction to submit Live Scan fingerprints:  https://oag.ca.gov/fingerprints/record-review

Are you ready to clean up your record?

Petitions for factual innocence are mini-trials where the legal standard is different than in a criminal trial and you must affirmatively prove your innocence.  CARE Act Petitions require at at least one court appearance and the petition must be filed pursuant to the criminal code.  You need an experienced attorney to maximize your chance of prevailing and getting your recorded sealed.  Fill out the intake form on the right or call now to find out more.  


Contact Me



(415) 967-0125

Isaac Safier, Esq.
345 Franklin St.

San Francisco, CA 94102






(415) 789-4305

© 2019 by Isaac Safier, Esq.

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