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Criminal Defense Attorneys

Joyriding Police Report & Court File Sealed, Inglewood

In 2014, our client rented a car from one of the many car rental agencies near LAX.  He paid for the car in advance for a week.  He worked in the Los Angeles area in the media business and had no prior criminal history.  In 2014, he was 59 years old.

Through some error on the rental car agency part after about three days into the week’s rental, the car was reported stolen and police were contacted.  Our client’s name was provided to the CHP, who then found our client and arrested our client for grand theft auto.  The police in the LAX area are familiar with rental car agencies reporting that someone who rented a car failed to return the car on time, so the missing car is reported as stolen and the case is handled as a grand theft auto matter.

The CHP regarded our client as just another such person who did not return the car on time.  When arrested, our client produced the receipt showing he had paid for the car in advance for one week and only three days of the seven days had passed.

The CHP’s response was “tell it to the judge” are continued with their arrest.  Making matters worse, the Inglewood District Attorney’s Office overlooked the paid receipt from the rental car agency and filed a misdemeanor complaint against our client for violation of Vehicle Code § 10851 (“unlawful taking or borrowing of a car without the owner’s consent, without the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle,” also known as “joyriding”). 

At the time, our client was represented by the public defender, who regarded with suspicion our client’s claim of having paid for the car a week in advance, even after our client again showed him the paid receipt. 

It took over five months before the public defender called the rental car agency to discuss the receipt from it and then understood what a mistake this case was.  The public defender then pressed the Inglewood District Attorney to dismiss the case, who did so under Penal Code § 1385, “in the interest of justice.”

While this gave the client some comfort, his criminal history bore documentation that he had been arrested and prosecuted for joyriding, which affected his ability to get work within the media industry.

So, one day in 2021, the client, now 66 years old, called Greg Hill & Associates and inquired about having the arrest and court file sealed so his Department of Justice record, as shown on his Livescan results, would not show the arrest and prosecution for this crime he did not commit.  The client described the basic facts of his case and how it was continuing to affect his employment to the present.

Greg then explained what a petition to seal was under Penal Code § 851.91 and how it was handled by a judge, as well as the DOJ and Livescan after a judge grants the petition.  Greg explained the requirements and the exceptions to relief, none of which applied to the client under the facts of his case.

The client then hired Greg Hill & Associates to prepare the petition to seal the police report and the court file.  The petition included not just the judicial council form, but also a short memorandum of points and authorities and a declaration from our client, setting forth under oath why he sought such relief. 

Our office then served the petition on the arresting agency (the CHP) and the Inglewood District Attorney’s Office.  We also filed the petition in the Inglewood Superior Court.

About two weeks after the petition was filed, the criminal clerk’s office in the Inglewood Superior Court mailed us notice of the hearing date and which department would handle the matter.

Greg Hill then appeared in court for the hearing on the petition.  The judge granted the objection.  The District Attorney’s Office did not oppose the petition.

We bring this summary to the reader’s attention because this type of mistake by the rental car agency, undiscovered by the CHP and then perpetuated by the District Attorney’s office in filing the criminal complaint against our client, is precisely the set of circumstances that legislators had in mind when providing for Penal Code § 851.91 and a petition to seal.

For more information about petitions to seal and the issues in this case, please click on the following articles:
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