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Name: People v. Gerold
Case #: E045848
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 06/03/2009

Defendant found not guilty by reason of insanity was not factually innocent for purposes of statute permitting sealing of arrest records. Gerold was found not guilty by reason of insanity and spent four years in a state hospital. Five and a half years after his release, he petitioned pursuant to Penal Code section 851.8 to have his arrest records sealed and destroyed. The court granted his request and the prosecutor appealed, arguing that the court acted in excess of its jurisdiction because the petition was not brought within the statutory time frame (two years of the filing of the accusatory pleading.) The appellate court held that the prosecutor forfeited the applicability of the statute of limitations by failing to raise it at the hearing on the matter. The prosecutor also argued that Gerold was not the type of individual the legislature envisioned section 851.8 would apply to. He was not acquitted of the charges, nor were they dismissed. He was not “factually innocent.” The appellate court agreed that section 851.8 was inapplicable. Section 851.8 is for the benefit of those who have not committed a crime. Here, Gerold was not factually innocent of the charges against him. On the contrary, in the initial phase of the trial, the court determined that he committed the acts constituting the crime. While he may not have been sufficiently mentally competent to sustain punishment for his acts, that determination does not equate with factual innocence of the acts underlying the charges against him.