On one afternoon in 2014, our client and her husband agreed that he would take out their three-year old for dinner and our client would stay home, take a hot bath and relax, perhaps even have a glass of wine. They had no other children. Our client was 48 years old in 2014.
Our client’s husband indeed left with the couple’s three-year old daughter and our client relaxed for a few hours. She did have a glass of wine, read her favorite book for a while and enjoyed a long, relaxing warm bath.
When her husband and their young daughter returned from dinner, the husband called the police on our client, claiming she had hit him and that she was drunk and neglecting their toddler. He told police she had hit him on the head and had a bruise there. He also had secretly videotaped our client drinking a glass of wine and told police that our client was extremely drunk. As proof that she drank many glasses of wine, she showed the police the video and many empty bottles of wine that he had assembled.
The Azusa Police Department raced to the scene and arrested our client for felony domestic violence (Penal Code § 273.5(a)) and misdemeanor child abuse or neglect (Penal Code § 273a(b)), also known as child endangerment. She was taken to the police station and booked. After the police investigated the incident further, they realized that our client was telling the truth when she explained that her husband had set her up and fabricated the event. He apparently had done similar things in the past, but our client had never been arrested due to his bizarre behavior.
West Covina Courthouse
The next morning our client was released after signing a promise to appear in the West Covina Courthouse on a certain date. The police told our client that the decision on whether to charge her was ultimately up to the District Attorney’s office, not the police, but that they would recommend she not be charged.
Our client retained a criminal defense attorney and the case indeed was rejected for filing. The attorney received a letter from the West Covina District Attorney’s office so advising of this decision and providing a DA reject number.
Seven years later, in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, our client’s business as an independent contractor human resources specialist and public speaker had almost evaporated since she could not meet with people face-to-face. Nonetheless, she did some work over Zoom and telephonically, but increasingly, bigger corporations were doing background checks and passing on her for employment.
The client’s arrest for felony domestic violence and misdemeanor child abuse / endangerment / neglect was visible on the client’s LIVESCAN report. While the client was never certain that her poor luck in getting work was due to this, she wanted the arrest removed or deleted from her record because of the stigma associated with such an arrest for both crimes.
The client called Greg Hill & Associates and spoke with Greg Hill about the 2014 incident and having her record for this arrest removed, deleted or erased from her record.
Greg explained that this was possible under Penal Code § 851.91 and Penal Code § 851.92. Greg explained that since the three-year statute of limitations had passed since the arrest for filing a felony and the case was not filed, that qualified her as long as certain exceptions did not apply.
Greg then explained that such a petition to seal would be denied, however, if petitioner had a “pattern” of arrests or even convictions for domestic violence, child abuse or elder abuse. Greg explained that a pattern was defined as “two or more convictions or five more arrests, for separate offenses occurring on separate occasions with three years from at least one of the other convictions or arrests.” Penal Code § 851.91(c)(2)(A)(III)(ii). The client explained that there was no pattern applicable to her.
The client then retained Greg Hill & Associates and our office prepared not only the judicial council forms required with such a petition, but also a short memorandum of points and authorities and a short declaration from our client explaining why she was asking for such an order to seal for her work. The declaration also included a photograph of the client with her daughter.
Greg Hill & Associates then filed the petition and served the Azusa Police Department and the West Covina District Attorney’s Office. The court clerk then assigned the matter a hearing date and Greg appeared in the West Covina Courthouse on that day for the hearing.
The judge granted the petition, which made our client extremely happy.
For more information about a petition to seal under Penal Code §§ 851.87 - 851.92, please click on the following articles: