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How to Seal an Arrest Record for Domestic Violence in California

In California today, the policy for most police agencies is that if a 911 call is made for domestic violence (243(e)(1) or 273.5 P.C.), then one person will be arrested and go to jail, no matter the circumstances. There is no official requirement that a person be arrested but, typically, once the officer subjectively determines that one of the parties was the aggressor, they will place that person under arrest, even if no injury occurred. The resulting mark on their arrest record will impact them for the rest of their life.

How the Police Handle Domestic Violence Calls

As a former Oakland Police Officer, I can clearly recall how a domestic violence call would pan out. I would interview the 911 caller, discuss the situation with both parties, and make no arrest unless it was warranted. If no arrest was warranted, I would prepare an assignment card and report the incident as a P.C. 415(f) – disturbing the peace. If a person was injured, I would possibly arrest them for domestic violence, battery (P.C. 242), or even assault with a deadly weapon (P.C. 245).

If arrested for domestic violence, usually the person will be booked, i.e. fingerprinted and photographed at the jail. This arrest record will remain with them forever unless they have their arrest record sealed by the court. If one is never convicted of battery, domestic violence, or assault with a deadly weapon, they have a right to have their arrest record sealed.

This occurs most frequently when:

  • No criminal charge is ever filed
  • The accused is offered, and successfully completes, a deferred entry of judgment
  • The charge has been dismissed before trial for another reason
  • A verdict of not guilty was reached by the jury in a criminal trial.

The statute of limitations for domestic violence in California can be either one year, or three years if great bodily harm is alleged. Currently, there is no time limit to bring an action requesting sealing of your arrest records.

Dublin Criminal Defense Lawyer On Your Side

If you or someone you know has been arrested in California for domestic violence, or a different crime, and the statute of limitations expired with no charge being filed, or you were not convicted for any other reason, contact the Law Office of Ivan O.B. Morse to discuss how to seal your arrest record. As a Dublin criminal defense attorney known for focus and tenacity, I have been able to successfully represented many clients accused of domestic violence throughout the years. Call toll-free 888.865.0741 to learn more about my law firm’s services.

[For further information regarding California’s record sealing processes, please see California Senate Bill 393 — signed into law on October 12, 2017 by California Governor Jerry Brown.]