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Factual Innocence Motion & Sealing an Arrest Record

by | Nov 7, 2015 | Firm News |

Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputies beat and framed Gabriel Carrillo while he was in custody in 2011. During a routine visit with an inmate, an oral argument took place between visitor Carrillo and the sheriff deputies. Things escalated when the deputies took Carrillo into custody and assaulted him. The deputies claimed that Carrillo had tried to fight them. When photographs showed injuries to Carrillo’s hands — indicating that he was beaten while handcuffed, battery charges against Carrillo were dropped.

Now, 4 years later, Mr. Carrillo was able to get a “factual innocence” motion granted. This goes far beyond an “expungement.” Mr. Carrillo will now have his arrest record sealed and destroyed. A Los Angeles Superior Court has ruled that there was no reasonable cause to believe that he committed the offense for which he was arrested.

Individuals who have been convicted of a crime in Los Angeles County will routinely call attorneys about cleaning up their records. It makes sense. In a competitive job market, it is good to have a limited criminal background. Most, if not all, are unaware of the differences between expungements and what Mr. Carrillo had received.

To explain clearly, it is important to start from the beginning. If there is probable cause for an arrest, and a person is arrested, he or she will have an arrest record, meaning that a criminal background check will show that an arrest took place.

A criminal charge is usually then initiated. It is separate from an arrest. Once a criminal charge has been filed, a person’s background will note the charge and the result of that charge. It could be a dismissal — should someone be successful in a motion to suppress, for example, or it could be a conviction. No matter what, however, there will be information available during a background check.

An expungement, as explained in other blog posts, dismisses the conviction. It also gives the formerly convicted person certain rights. It prevents discrimination. An expungement does not get rid of an arrest or charge on a person’s criminal history. It simply withdraws the guilty plea and dismisses the case.

A “factual innocence motion” does get rid of a person’s criminal history. Pursuant to California Penal Code section 851.8, should a person win a Petition to Seal and Destroy an arrest record, the California Department of Justice will seal the arrest. It will not show up on a criminal background check. After three years, it gets destroyed.

The burden is extremely high for a Petition to Seal and Destroy. Factual innocence must be proven, which is a tough standard. A person must show that there was no “reasonable cause” to believe that a crime was committed. Again, it is difficult.

Nevertheless, it is a good option for individuals like Mr. Carrillo. If you, the reader, family member, or friend are unsure on how to proceed in cleaning up a criminal background, it is best to contact a criminal defense attorney. He or she will likely be able to answer questions that are specific to each person.