Penal Code Section 851.8 provides that a person who has been arrested or detained and is determined to be factually innocent may petition the law enforcement agency or court having jurisdiction over the matter to provide for the sealing and destruction of the record of that arrest. Petitions concerning arrests may be filed for up to two years following the arrest filing date.
So, what exactly does this mean? Simply put, it means that if you were arrested and, according to the law should not have been, you may petition the court to destroy all records of the arrest.
A good example of a wrongful arrest would be if you were arrested for having a Vicodin pill in your possession and you repeatedly explain to the officer that you have a prescription for Vicodin but the officer arrest you anyway, rather than taking the time to find out whether or not you are telling the truth. The case is then submitted to the District Attorney. Once the District Attorney is made aware that you do in fact have a prescription for Vicodin, the case is rejected but the arrest is there to stay.