Petition for Finding of Factual Innocence (Penal Code 851.8)
If you have a case that was dismissed or where the charges were never filed, you can file a petition for a declaration of factual innocence. After bringing the Petition, the prosecutor will file an opposition. Then a hearing will be scheduled.
At the hearing the Petitioner has the burden of proof to establish factual innocence. The standard for factual innocence is whether 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. Simply put: the petitioner has to prove no reasonable juror could find him guilty.
It’s a very high burden. Comparable to the prosecutor’s burden of beyond a reasonable doubt.
If the Petitioner is successful it results in the destruction of all records of the arrest. This includes fingerprints obtained during the investigation. At the end the arrest is deemed never to have happened.
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