What is a petition for factual innocence?
A petition for factual innocence is a petition that you can file with the Court in California if you were actually innocent of the charges. California Penal Code section 851.8, subdivision (b) states:
“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. If the court finds the arrestee to be factually innocent of the charges for which the arrest was made, then the court shall order the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the offense, the Department of Justice, and any law enforcement agency which arrested the petitioner or participated in the arrest of the petitioner for an offense for which the petitioner has been found factually innocent under this section to seal their records of the arrest and the court order to seal and destroy the records, for three years from the date of the arrest and thereafter to destroy their records of the arrest and the court order to seal and destroy those records. The court shall also order the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the offense and the Department of Justice to request the destruction of any records of the arrest which they have given to any local, state, or federal agency, person or entity. Each state or local agency, person or entity within the State of California receiving such a request shall destroy its records of the arrest and the request to destroy the records, unless otherwise provided in this section. The court shall give to the petitioner a copy of any court order concerning the destruction of the arrest records.”
(Pen. Code, § 851.8, subd. (b).)
“In any case where a person has been arrested, and an accusatory pleading has been filed, but where no conviction has occurred, the defendant may, at any time after dismissal of the action, petition the court that dismissed the action for a finding that the defendant is factually innocent of the charges for which the arrest was made.”
(Pen. Code, § 851.8, subd. (c).)
If you have been declared factually innocent by a court, you may be entitled to monetary compensation paid to you by the California Victims Compensation Board.
“(a) If a person has secured a declaration of factual innocence from the court pursuant to Section 851.8 or 851.86, the finding shall be sufficient grounds for payment of compensation for a claim made pursuant to Section 4900. Upon application by the person, the California Victim Compensation Board shall, without a hearing, recommend to the Legislature that an appropriation be made and the claim paid pursuant to Section 4904.
(b) If the declaration of factual innocence is granted pursuant to a stipulation of the prosecutor, the duty of the board to, without a hearing, recommend to the Legislature payment of the claim, shall apply.”
(Pen. Code, § 851.865.)
If you have been granted a petition for factual innocence, make sure you get all the money you are entitled to!