California Penal Code Section 851.8
The right to the sealing and destruction of arrest records and to a determination of factual innocence is statutory, governed by section 851.8. (People v. Chagoyan (2003) 107 Cal.App.4th 810, 815.)
Pursuant to that section, it is the former criminal defendant's burden to establish that "no reasonable cause exists" to believe he or she committed the offense charged. (People v. Adair (2003) 29 Cal.4th 895, 902-903.)
"'Section 851.8 is for the benefit of those defendants who have not committed a crime. It permits those petitioners who can show that the state should never have subjected them to the compulsion of the criminal law -- because no objective factors justified official action -- to purge the official records of any reference to such action. . . .' In determining at a court hearing whether factual innocence exists, the arrestee bears the preliminary burden of establishing that 'no reasonable cause exists to believe that he or she committed the offense.' (Pen. Code, 851.8, subd. (b).)
The arrestee thus must establish that facts exist which would lead no person of ordinary care and prudence to believe or conscientiously entertain any honest and strong suspicion that the person arrested is guilty of the crimes charged. " (People v. Matthews (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 1052, 1056.)
Subdivision (e) of section 851.8 sets forth the procedure to be followed when a person has been acquitted of a charge; subdivision (c) governs the procedure when, as here, a person was arrested, an accusatory pleading was filed and no conviction occurred. Subdivision (c) specifies that a hearing on the defendant's petition "shall be conducted as provided in subdivision (b)." Subdivision (b), in turn, provides, "Notwithstanding Section 1538.5 or 1539 pertaining to the suppression of evidence at trial, any judicial determination of factual innocence made pursuant to this section may be heard and determined upon declarations, affidavits, police reports, or any other evidence submitted by the parties which is material, relevant and reliable. A finding of factual innocence and an order for the sealing and destruction of records pursuant to this section shall not be made unless the court finds that no reasonable cause exists to believe that the arrestee committed the offense for which the arrest was made. In any court hearing to determine the factual innocence of a party, the initial burden of proof shall rest with the petitioner to show that no reasonable cause exists to believe that the arrestee committed the offense for which the arrest was made. If the court finds that this showing of no reasonable cause has been made by the petitioner, then the burden of proof shall shift to the respondent to show that a reasonable cause exists to believe that the petitioner committed the offense for which the arrest was made. . . ."
In People v. Chagoyan (2003) 107 Cal.App.4th 810, the Court reversed the denial of a Penal Code section 851.8 motion, holding the trial court erred in refusing to consider the evidence the defendant had proffered in support of his request for a finding of factual innocence:
"Section 851.8, subdivision (b) states that the petitioner has the initial burden of proof 'to show that no reasonable cause exists to believe that the arrestee committed the offense' for which he was arrested. Unlike other statutory schemes, this statute does not specify that the petitioner's showing must be made solely by documents or in his moving papers, as the prosecutor argues. The 'initial burden of proof' referred to in subdivision (b) is not a condition for the introduction of additional evidence, but is the standard the petitioner must satisfy before the prosecution is required to make a contrary showing. To satisfy this burden of proof, the petitioner must be permitted to adduce his evidence." (Id. at pp. 817-818.)