Petition for Factual Innocence

As a Garden Grove expungement lawyer, I receive calls all the time from people who are applying for a new job and are nervous about losing the opportunity in a tough market as a result of a prior arrest. Because of this, more and more people are calling criminal defense attorneys in order to clean up their records and avoiding embarrassing revelations at work that might cost them their hard-earned employment. But the law is not perfect. If you have been charged with and convicted of a drug offense you can complete a drug diversion program and have the records sealed after you complete the program. If you've been convicted of a crime and have been sentenced to probation and completed probation without any violations you can seek an expungement. But what about an arrest that didn't result in a criminal case at all, or where you were charged, but the DA dropped the case? The best protection of all is a court document that seals your record and has the records destroyed. Think of a Petition For Factual Innocence (PFI) as a Time machine.

When a judge grants a Petition for Factual Innocence, your criminal record is essentially wiped out. This is something perhaps even better than the stress and drama of winning a case at a jury trial. California law says, "the arrest shall be deemed not to have occurred and the person may answer accordingly any question relating to it."

What is especially wonderful about Petitions for Factual Innocence is that not only is the record sealed and ultimately destroyed after three years but the motion to seal the records itself is destroyed. It is as if a genie snapped her fingers and the entire affair dissolved. Why is this important? It is important because it can affect not only your work history but could affect a family law case, gaining admission into the school of your choice or your child's choice, obtaining insurance or even your reputation in the community. An expungement lawyer in Garden Grove may make a big difference in whether you receive this type of relief.

So how is this done? First, the petitioner must file a document with the arresting police agency and send a copy to the District Attorney's Office. If the police department chooses to ignore the PFI (which happens in about 99% of the cases) the arrestee has to wait two months until after the statute of limitations expires and then file that same PFI in court. But, if the charges were filed then the defendant has to wait until the charges are resolved. Typically this requires the charges being dismissed or a verdict of not guilty. But if that happens then the defendant can file a PFI immediately under section Penal Code section 851.8.

As an expungement attorney in Garden Grove, I recommend to all clients is to document their petition as intensively as possible and provide declarations by interested parties as well as letters of reference and recommendation and other documents that tend to support a person's character and credibility. What happens when an arrest is made but no charges are filed? In those situations the PSI must be served on the arresting agency. Once denied, the PSI is filed in court.

In short, we all hope that the police do their work and do an accurate job. However, life is complicated and police officers are human and often make mistakes in their work. It is the job of a competent Garden Grove expungement attorney to point out to the court those errors and to obtain true justice for his client through the use of the Petition for Factual Innocence. Call me at 949.474.8008 to discuss your matter, or contact me online.