California Penal Code Section 851.8(C) - Interpretation

Section 851.8 establishes the guidelines for sealing and destroying the arrest records of a person who is factually innocent. (People v. Matthews (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 1052, 1055 9 Cal. Rptr. 2d 348.) It applies to the following classes of individuals: "(1) persons who have been arrested but no accusatory pleading has yet been filed ( 851.8, subd. (a)); (2) persons who have been arrested and an accusatory pleading has been filed but no conviction has occurred ( 851.8, subds. (c), (d)); (3) persons who are 'acquitted of a charge and it appears to the judge presiding at the trial ... that the defendant was factually innocent' ( 851.8, subd. (e))." (Tennison v. California Victim Comp. & Government Claims Bd. (2007) 152 Cal.App.4th 1164, 1171, fn. 4 62 Cal. Rptr. 3d 88.) Section 851.8(c) provides: "In any case where a person has been arrested, and an accusatory pleading has been filed, but where no conviction has occurred, the defendant may, at any time after dismissal of the action, petition the court that dismissed the action for a finding that the defendant is factually innocent of the charges for which the arrest was made. a copy of the petition shall be served on the prosecuting attorney of the county or city in which the accusatory pleading was filed at least 10 days prior to the hearing on the petitioner's factual innocence. the prosecuting attorney may present evidence to the court at the hearing. the hearing shall be conducted as provided in subdivision (b). If the court finds the petitioner to be factually innocent of the charges for which the arrest was made, then the court shall grant the relief as provided in subdivision (b)." In People v. Bermudez (1989) 215 Cal.App.3d 1226, Division Three of this court did not address the argument that the two-year time limit of section 851.8(l) should not apply to petitions filed under section 851.8(c) because the parties had not addressed the issue on appeal. (Bermudez, at p. 1230, fn. 5.) The court noted, however, "the Legislature apparently intended section 851.8(l) to apply to all petitions under the section." (Ibid.) The court went on to conclude that the defendant (no relation to appellant) had not shown good cause for waiving the time limits in section 851.8(l). (Bermudez, at pp. 1230-1231.)