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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    15

    Question How to Seal or Expunge a Record After Charges are Dropped

    My question involves criminal records for the state of: California

    An event happened 15 years ago where I was charged with something, but where it was eventually dropped (never went to any trial and I never saw court, judge, or anything like that).

    A few months ago, I went to the police station here in the Los Angeles area, and requested to see what is on my record? I payed a fee, they took my finger prints, and then they did an investigation to pull my records and send anything they can find to my home address. This process took a few weeks.

    And sure enough, once I received the investigation report there it was: something I was charged with, that was dropped. But, now I have more information to its existence.

    Being that so many years have passed, I'd like to expunge or seal my record to get this off if possible. However, I'm not sure what the next steps are? I have a piece of paper stating what charges where to potentially to be filed against me, but it was dropped and dismissed.

    Is there someone maybe at the Los Angeles Superior Court (Van Nuys or otherwise) that I can call? Someone further there that I should maybe talk to about this?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    California
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    413

    Default Re: Seal/Expunge a Record with Charges Dropped

    Your use of the word "charged" makes your question confusing because you said you never went to court and it was dropped. Only the DA can file charges, not cops. So arrested is not the same as actually being charged. If you mean you were arrested but charges were never filed and you were released, that's different. There are two ways you can go. First is a PC 851.91, in which you petition the court to seal the arrest records. It doesn't competely destroy them and the information can be used if relevant in a subsequent prosecution. The other option is PC 851.8 where you seek a finding of factual innocence. ANY relatively experience criminal defense attorney can handle this for you. You can pick up the phone book or contact the LA Bar Association for a referral.

  3. #3
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    Sep 2005
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    California
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    20,331

    Default Re: Seal/Expunge a Record with Charges Dropped

    To add to what LegalWriter posted, here is a site from the CA courts with information for you:

    http://www.courts.ca.gov/1070.htm
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    15

    Default Re: Seal/Expunge a Record with Charges Dropped

    LegalWriter,

    Thank you kindly for the response.

    In answering your question honestly, it's a bit blurry in my eyes. In my early 20's, I was arrested for protecting someone in my family against someone else in my family going down a wrong path in life. Caught up in the situation of things, I was raided in my parents home and taken to jail; very traumatic experience for me for someone who never gets into trouble. My entire family came to my defense and subsequently removed from the entire family the person who filed charges against me (which the person only did to cause me pain and because I was a hinder to them in making wrongs decisions in their life). So yes, I honestly did make a mistake in something I should not have done, but did so to prevent this person from making further mistakes or "tried". But the mistake, if understood, would really be understood in the context of what was going on. But technically, I was in the wrong looking at it from a law perspective and NOT taking the situation into context. Really sort of a betrayal, the only lame "example" I can come up with is: someone says I can borrow their car, where they turn on you and says you STOLE it! Next thing you know you are caught with being in possession of the vehicle surprised someone in family took this step to file charges. You'd never think your own family member would turn on you in such a way, but I learned the hard way in my case. Anyway, forgive my lame example, as it's a different matter.

    When in jail (for 3 days), the entire situation was looked at and became very clear after everything was explained (investigations, family support, friends, ...etc). And, everyone in my family was there to support me in helping to relay that this should have never happened to me. The judge dropped it, I was released. The person was expelled from the family for taking such a low approach, and I moved forward in my life protected and separate from this other individual ever since. Very embarrassing situation for someone who tries to do anything to not get in trouble, somehow I managed.

    I've since grown up and moved on the last 15 years and have lead a good clean life. However, I once got stopped at an international checkpoint (on business) only to be questioned about this thing on my record that occurred years ago not thinking anymore about it in my past . I was berated and questioned over this and caught up in this situation of being peppered with questions (e.g: "sorry sir, if you don't answer these question, we may have to send you back on a return flight"), but was honest about it knowing I was well intended in a complicated situation at the time. Knowing this, I knew something must be in my record, but what did they know that I don't know? I was shocked to discover this on a business trip no less!

    For this reason, I have since wanted to know what it is that shows on my record? I went to the police station and payed for an investigation into my record. And that was mailed to me as I said.

    It's just to say, it was confusing at the time (15 years ago). I tried to forget about that drama, and moved forward in life to lead a good life which I've since done.

    As my only blemish and years that have passed, I'd like to get this off my record as a way to close this part of my life.

    So was I really "charged"? I don't know. I never went to court thought and only "heard" through family that the "charges" were dropped? Although, something was filed to cause a whole raid for my arrest. So hard for me to say. There's a lot of things that I've simply never looked back on to better understand it. I rather just let it go and move on in my now happy life.

    Again, thank you kindly for providing direction for me. I will spend some time reading through "PC 851.91".

    Here' what I'd like to still know if possible:

    I guess the question I still have, based on what you said, is if this is something I can do on my own without an attorney? Or, is this something that I should have an attorney simply take care of for me? I do have an attorney, but as always, why pay for something that can be simply done and when it's simply by filling something? To expunge a record, is this something someone can typically take care of on their own, or it advised that I take the further steps of paying for an attorney to file all such necessary paperwork?

    If it's advised that such things are normally taken care of by an attorney since it's typically too complicated (too much hoops to jump through and paperwork), then I'll proceed to contact my attorney to happily pay for it.

    Right now, I'm just gathering up what information I can (e.g. paperwork in hand now as to what is in my record that I could hand to my attorney) to determine what I can do on my own.

    Thanks again LegalWriter! Much appreciated!

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
    View Post
    To add to what LegalWriter posted, here is a site from the CA courts with information for you:

    http://www.courts.ca.gov/1070.htm
    cdwjava,

    Thanks, I'll take a look at http://www.courts.ca.gov/1070.htm and read through that as well!

    I'm glad to have something I can read now that will help to give me further direction and insight.

    Again, thanks!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    California
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    Default Re: Seal/Expunge a Record with Charges Dropped

    There CAN be a difference between NO charges, and charges filed and later dismissed by a court. I strongly suspect, if you never had to appear even for an arraignment, that the matter was not filed at all by the DA's office. In any event, the proceeding will likely be handled pursuant to PC 851.8.

    You can do this sort of thing yourself, if you want. But, there may be a local attorney who can handle this for cheap and grant you some peace of mind to see that it is done right.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    15

    Default Re: Seal/Expunge a Record with Charges Dropped

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
    View Post
    There CAN be a difference between NO charges, and charges filed and later dismissed by a court. I strongly suspect, if you never had to appear even for an arraignment, that the matter was not filed at all by the DA's office. In any event, the proceeding will likely be handled pursuant to PC 851.8.

    You can do this sort of thing yourself, if you want. But, there may be a local attorney who can handle this for cheap and grant you some peace of mind to see that it is done right.

    Thank you cdwjava!

    For 851.8, is this the form I need to fill out:

    https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/a.../bcia-8270.pdf

    What does the "Note: DOJ does NOT accept petitions or documents from the public" imply?

    Fill it out (just the blue section?) and send it in?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    California
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    413

    Default Re: Seal/Expunge a Record with Charges Dropped

    Yes, that is the correct for for 851.8. If the LEO's agree and sign the petition, they will send a copy to the DOJ. If they decline it, you will have to take the issue to the court.

  8. #8
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    Mar 2012
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    15

    Default Re: Seal/Expunge a Record with Charges Dropped

    Quote Quoting LegalWriter
    View Post
    Yes, that is the correct for for 851.8. If the LEO's agree and sign the petition, they will send a copy to the DOJ. If they decline it, you will have to take the issue to the court.
    Thank you Legal Writer! Sounds like the move forward plan is the following:

    If the LEO signs the petition, I'm done!

    If they decline it, then it sounds like it would be at this point in time where I have a lawyer take care of the rest and deal with any court related issues.

    Great! I'm glad to have some plan to move forward on this after so many years! I'll keep you posted!

    LegalWriter & cdwjava

    Following up with you both, see below. I wanted to answer:

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
    View Post
    There CAN be a difference between NO charges, and charges filed and later dismissed by a court. I strongly suspect, if you never had to appear even for an arraignment, that the matter was not filed at all by the DA's office.
    I am filling out the form. I've been going through my documents I have collected.

    I wanted to say that I found out the disposition was "released/detention only".

    That should help to answer your question.

  9. #9
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    Mar 2012
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    15

    Default Re: Seal/Expunge a Record with Charges Dropped

    On or around 01/05/2019, I have sent the 851.8 form to the "Department of Justice " in Sacramento. As of 2/22/2019, I haven't heard a response back from them or know the progress of status of what they are doing?

    Anyway to find out what is going on?

  10. #10
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    Sep 2005
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    California
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    Default Re: Seal/Expunge a Record with Charges Dropped

    Quote Quoting JasonCA
    View Post
    On or around 01/05/2019, I have sent the 851.8 form to the "Department of Justice " in Sacramento. As of 2/22/2019, I haven't heard a response back from them or know the progress of status of what they are doing?

    Anyway to find out what is going on?
    How you might find out, I cannot say. But, the DOJ suffered some catastrophic personnel cuts about 10 years ago and have yet to recoup many of those positions. It could just be that your request is in a queue somewhere and may take some more time. You can always try and find a public phone number for the division responsible.

    The Record Review Unit appears to be affiliated with the Record Sealing Unit, so you may want to try: (916) 227-3849. Keep in mind that many DOJ numbers are parts of telephone trees from Hell, so don't be surprised if you have to either wait or press a lot of buttons.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

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