Monday, May 28, 2012

What if I am Arrested But No Criminal Charges Are Filed?

Many times in the day police arrest individuals but the district attorney decides not to file criminal charges against them or decide to "reject" a request by law enforcement to bring a formal complaint against the accused.  In these instances, the question becomes what affect will this have on my permanent record?  It depends.  If the person was booked, that is they were finger printed and a mug shot photograph was taken, then there will be an arrest record history sent to the California Department of Justice reflecting an arrest.  Oftentimes, however, the police agency will not follow up on their duties and update the system that the person was not charged and that all criminal allegations were dropped.  Without this critical step, the person may be strapped with the stigma of an arrest record that shows no disposition which could negatively impact employment and other important aspects of the person's life down the road.  A lawyer can be retained to request that the record be destroyed or that proper methods should be adhered to so that the arrest is shown as a "detention only".  This crucial follow up is overlooked many times and the arrestee will not be aware of the scar on his or her record.

One option is to formally demand that the police department issue a "certificate of detention" after the prosecutor fails to file formal charges.  It should be noted though that this request may be a bad idea particularly when the D.A. is on the fence about filing charges.  In these cases the police may take it upon themselves to pursue the case with the district attorney, sometimes called "awakening a sleeping giant".  So be careful in how you handle these things, it is best to consult with an attorney familiar with the criminal laws in California. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for the article and information, but I have a couple questions which I hope can be answered here. I am in a situation where my landlord wants to evict me due to an arrest that happened about 3 months ago; I heard strange noises and thought someone was breaking into my home so i called the police (3 times) and when they finally showed up they arrested me for possession of a controlled substance [my legal medication which they refused to see a prescription for] and intoxication. When I was booked I was told I would see a judge in 3 days. After 3 days of sitting in jail I was being brought to see the judge and the officer pulled me out of the group and told me "your charges were not filed, you are not seeing a judge, instead there is 'no action' and you will be released tonight". So I was brought back to my cell, waited a few hours and was released and told that my charges were not filed (probably due to over crowding) although I was also told that the DA could choose to file charges within 1 year but that it was unlikely based on the police report. Two months later my landlord calls me and says they are going to evict me because of this but also gave me the option to leave over the weekend (which is virtually impossible considering I furnished the entire 1,000 sq ft apartment). I checked online to see if my charges had been filed (found out no), or if I have a warrant (no again), or even if i showed up in the SD county database at all and still NO. So my question is how can they possibly evict me for something that I wasn't even charged with..? Any info would be of great help, thank you.
    -Devin B