A juvenile court record is composed of documents relating to a juvenile court case. If a minor is arrested and the case is closed without charges, there may be no record of the arrest. If a minor is adjudicated a ward of the court for violating the law and given an in-custody disposition the record will continue to exist until sealed. By sealing or expunging a juvenile record one will treat the arrest as if it never took place. This allows juveniles from being haunted by their past.
It is important for one to know that juvenile court records are not sealed automatically when a person becomes an adult. A person must meet a state’s eligibility requirement for record sealing in order to file a petition with the juvenile court clerk. One must file the petition in the county where the juvenile adjudication occurred. By filling a petition one is asking the court to issue a written order sealing the record. As of your 18th birthday you are eligible to petition to have your juvenile records sealed. No one will have access to them and records will be completely destroyed 5 years from the date of sealing.
It is not necessary for one to hire an attorney in order to have a record sealed. Many attorneys are able to quickly complete the essential paperwork by charging a fee. If you find the process difficult many states have pre-printed fill in the blank petition forms available at the clerk’s office. The forms contain instructions in order to complete and file the petition.
Eligibility for record sealing varies from state to state:
Age: A petitioner must be an adult (18 years or older) in order to be eligible for record sealing.
Time: Depending on the time that has passed since the offense was committed or since the juvenile court proceedings ended.
Crime Committed: Misdemeanors records tend to be readily sealed than felony records.
Conduct: A juvenile offender with “recent” criminal violations may be ineligible to have juvenile court records sealed.
Sealing juvenile records takes on average eight to ten months. Once the petition is filed with the juvenile court will set a court hearing date. During the hearing the court will evaluate the evidence and hear arguments for and against the petition to seal the juvenile record. The court can then make a decision either at the live hearing or later in writing.
Below is a list of offenses that make one ineligible for sealing Juvenile Records in California:
California Welfare and Institution Code sec. 707(b) lists those juvenile crimes that are not eligible for sealing of records.
The following offenses are not eligible for sealing of juvenile records:
1. Murder. Penal Code § 187.
2. Arson causing great bodily injury or done to a home. Penal Code § 451(a)(b).
3. Robbery. Penal Code § 211.
4. Rape by force, violence, or threat of great bodily harm. Penal Code § 261.
5. Sodomy by force, violence, duress, menace, or threat of great bodily harm. Penal Code § 286.
6. A lewd or lascivious act done by force, violence, duress, menace, or threat of great bodily harm. Penal Code § 288(b).
7. Oral copulation by force, violence, duress, menace, or threat of great bodily harm. Penal Code § 288a.
8. An act of sexual penetration committed by force, violence, duress, menace, or threat of great bodily harm. Penal Code § 289(a).
9. Kidnapping for ransom. Penal Code § 209.
10. Kidnapping for purposes of robbery. Penal Code § 207.
11. Kidnapping with bodily harm. Penal Code § 207.
12. Attempted murder. Penal Code § 187 and § 644.
13. Assault with a firearm or destructive device. Penal Code § 245.
14. Assault by any means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.Penal Code § 240.
15. Discharge of a firearm into an inhabited or occupied building. Penal Code § 246.
16. Certain elder abuse crimes. Penal Code § 1203.09.
17. Certain felonies committed with the use of a firearm. Penal Code § 12022.5 or § 12022.53.
18. A felony offense in which the minor used certain concealed weapons. Penal Code § 12020(a).
19. Certain cases of witness intimidation. Penal Code § 136.1 or § 137.
20. Manufacturing, compounding, or selling one-half ounce or more of a salt or solution of a controlled depressant or barbiturate substance. Health and Safety Code § 11055(e).
21. Certain violent felonies committed in association with a gang, as defined in Penal Code § 667.5(c) and Penal Code §186.22(b).
22. Certain jail escapes involving the intentional injury of a juvenile facility employee, as defined in Welfare and Institutions Code § 871(b).
23. Torture as defined in Penal Code § 206 and § 206.1.
24. Aggravated mayhem, as defined in Penal Code § 205.
25. Carjacking, as defined in Penal Code § 215, while armed with a dangerous or deadly weapon.
26. Kidnapping for purposes of sexual assault, as punishable in Penal Code § 209(b).
27. Certain cases involving kidnapping during the commission of a carjacking. Penal Code § 209.5.
28. Certain gun enhancement offenses, as defined in Penal Code § 12034(c).
29. Certain explosive offenses, as defined in Penal Code § 12308.
30. Voluntary manslaughter, as defined in Penal Code § 192(a).