How To Seal Juvenile Records In California
Contrary to what many people believe, juvenile records are not automatically sealed when a child or minor becomes a legal adult at eighteen years old. To seal a juvenile record, you will need to file an application in court. You must also meet certain eligibility requirements in order to have your record sealed.
If you don’t apply to have your record sealed, you may be discriminated against by prospective employers, state licensing agencies, banks and other lending institutions, and even colleges and trade schools.
What Does Sealing A Juvenile Record Do?
If your petition to seal your juvenile records is successful, it closes your file. Essentially, your juvenile records cease to exist after they are sealed.
Once sealed, it allows you to answer “no” to any of the following questions:
- Have you ever been arrested?
- Do you have a criminal record?
- Do you have a sealed record?
All documents pertaining to your juvenile record, including arrest reports, judge’s rulings, exhibits, and probation reports become inaccessible to anyone looking into your background.
Can Juvenile Records Ever Be Reopened?
There are really only two reasons that your juvenile record would ever be reopened:
1) If you are part of a defamation civil lawsuit, your juvenile record may be opened and admissible as evidence during the proceedings. Once the lawsuit is resolved, your records will once again be sealed.
2) A prosecutor may access a sealed juvenile record for the purpose of locating and disclosing exculpatory evidence in a criminal case.
Aside from those two very specific legal scenarios, your records will remain sealed forever.
Am I Eligible to Have My Juvenile Records Sealed?
Eligibility to seal juvenile records is based on the following four criteria:
- You are eighteen years or older now orthe jurisdiction of the juvenile court terminated at least five years ago.
- You have not been convicted as an adult of any felony or any misdemeanor that involves moral turpitude. ‘Moral turpitude’ means dishonest or immoral behavior.
- The court believes you have been rehabilitated.
- There is no pending civil litigation arising from any of your juvenile incidents.
If you meet all four criteria listed above, you are considered eligible to have your juvenile records sealed.
How To Get Started
Sealing your juvenile records is process that takes, on average, between eight months and year. A lot depends on where you live and how busy the court is when you apply.
The good news is that an attorney can do almost all the work on your behalf. Once your attorney files the petition, a judge will set a hearing date. At the hearing, the judge will review your petition and any evidence presented by you, the local Department of Probation, the District Attorney, and anyone else that has relevant information.
After the hearing, the judge will decide either to grant your petition and seal your records or deny your petition. If you petition is denied, you are allowed to apply again at a later date.
For more information about sealing your juvenile records, please contact our offices for a free consultation.
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At Quinnan Law, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 540-2356.
We provide representation in California State and Federal Courts. We accept most major credit cards for your convenience.