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Name: People v. Christiansen
Case #: B252804
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 09/30/2014

After finding defendant factually innocent, trial court erred by refusing to order the destruction of her fingerprint impressions, taken at time of arrest. Appellant was found guilty of conflict of interest (Gov. Code, § 1090) and appealed. The Court of Appeal reversed her conviction and ordered the trial court to dismiss all charges against her (People v. Christiansen (2013) 216 Cal.App.4th 1181). On remand, appellant moved for dismissal and a finding of factual innocence (Pen. Code, § 851.8). She requested that all of the arrest records be sealed and destroyed, including removal of identifiers such as DNA and fingerprint impressions (Pen. Code, § 299). The prosecution opposed the destruction of fingerprint impressions, stating they are retained to track arrests. The trial court declared appellant factually innocent and ordered all arrest and conviction records and identifiers destroyed, except the fingerprints. Defendant appealed. Held: Reversed. Under section 851.8, a person who has been arrested for an offense but who has not suffered a conviction may, if the action is dismissed, petition the trial court for a finding a factual innocence. If such a finding is made, the trial court shall order the applicable law enforcement agencies to seal all records of the arrest for three years after the date of arrest and thereafter to destroy them. “Fingerprint impressions obtained at the time of arrest constitute part of the records of the arrest” within the meaning of section 851.8. The trial court was directed to order the prints destroyed.