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    As a former Deputy Public Defender in Riverside County, Mr. Donath has always been on the defense side of the law. 

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    Top 100 Trial Attorneys in California 2012-2014, 2008 Trial Attorney of the Year by the Riverside County Public Defender's Office, and dozens of other awards and accolades.

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Arrested But No Charges Filed: Is My Record Affected?

Posted in Criminal Defense on January 24, 2020

Getting arrested is a scary situation, but it does not always mean you will be convicted of a crime. In fact, there are times when prosecutors decline to file charges at all. However, just because charges are not filed does not mean you will have a clear record. Unfortunately, the arrest will still show up on your record.

The good news is that there are things that can be done to lessen or eliminate all evidence of an arrest from your criminal record. This is vital, as marks on your record can affect your ability to get a job, find housing, and go to school.

What is on an arrest record?

If you are arrested in California but not charged, the charges will not show up on a criminal record, but the person will have an arrest record. Typically, these records usually contain:

  • The personal information of the arrestee (name, birth date, gender, etc.)
  • Date and place of the arrest
  • The name of the arresting officer
  • The address of the detention center or jail
  • The name of the issuer of the arrest warrant

Why would a prosecutor not file charges?

There are several reasons that a prosecutor may decline to file charges. This could be because they disagree with the assessment of law enforcement concerning the situation. Some prosecutors may view certain types of crimes as not worth pursuing. Other times, some non-violent cases may go to mediation and diverted out of court.

If the arresting officer failed to observe a suspect’s rights, the prosecution may decline to file charges. Other times, the alleged victim of a crime may ask that charges not be brought.

Do I need an attorney?

Previously, California law made it very difficult to get an arrest record sealed. They had to petition the arresting agency or the court to have the record sealed. Even then, the law only allowed for this to happen if there was no reasonable cause to believe that the arrestee committed an offense to be arrested.

Now, a person in California is entitled “as a matter of right” to have their arrest record sealed. The decision is no longer left up to the discretion of the court. In most cases, a person’s arrest record will be sealed if they did not face any charges as a result of the arrest. The record is sealed, and it is as if the arrest never happened.

That being said, the process can still be onerous for a person with no legal experience. An attorney can help you understand the arrest, assist with the paperwork involved, and help ensure you get everything turned into the correct agencies. Your arrest record should not exist if you did not face charges. The job of your defense attorney is to ensure fairness.

Criminal defense attorney Graham Donath offers free consultations, if you have a question regarding your arrest, give our law firm a call at (951) 667-5293 or fill out a contact form.

Are there exceptions?

Yes, not all arrests that did not result in charges will be sealed. For certain arrests, particularly those for domestic abuse or other violent charges, the court is not required to order the sealing of a record. Because of this limited discretion, you may need an attorney to argue in your favor for sealing the arrest record.

There is also a chance that the arrest is discoverable, notably for those applying for certain government jobs.