Sealing Juvenile Records

Articles by Carina Castañeda 17 November 2009

When a person under the age of 18 (a minor) is arrested or commits a crime, in most cases, a juvenile record will exists. A juvenile record contains all arrest papers, orders by the juvenile court judge, and documents relating to your case. These documents are kept by the courts and law enforcements agencies, such as probation or the police departments.

While juvenile files and records are generally confidential, there are some important exceptions. They can be accessed by police, prosecutors, probation officers, correctional officers and other criminal justice officials. They may also be available to employers, educational institutions, licensing agencies and other organizations when the person applies for employment or educational programs.

Eligibility: (1) No crime defined under California, Penal Code, Section 707 (b)such as murder, arson, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, carjacking.; (2) Completed sentence and not facing any new charges; (3) Over 18 years old or 5 years have passed since probation ended; (4) Not convicted of an adult felony or adult misdemeanor involving moral turpitude; (5) No pending civil suit arising from the crime; (6) Not sentenced to the California Youth Authority.

Benefits: All records, reports, exhibits, etc. are directly sealed. This means that the Court, Probation Department, police agencies and any other agency (except the federal government) having information regarding the individual must physically seal the record and respond to any request for information that they have no record.

If you were successful in sealing your juvenile record, you may also do the following: (1) tell employers that you were not convicted of a crime; (2) become eligible for professional licenses; (3) prosecutor cannot enhance a future charge; (4) apply for a change in immigrant status with more confidence.

Juvenile records are not automatically sealed when you become 18 years old. Your records will not be sealed unless you file a petition with the court. After this petition is filed, the court holds a hearing to determine if your juvenile record can be sealed. It is crucial that the judge is aware that you meet the requirements of eligibility coupled with a showing that you have been rehabilitated. Again, this may at times be very discretionary and requires an effective lawyer to represent your case in the most positive manner.

Unlike most criminal proceedings, the minor has the burden of proof, making record sealing at times a very challenging task. However, if successful, your juvenile record will be sealed. Once these records are sealed, in some states, they will be physically destroyed. If you had committed a crime as a minor and never petitioned the court to seal your record, you must file this petition in order to insure that your past acts does not come back to haunt you.


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