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Juvenile Record Sealing and Expungement

The laws in most states allow for expungement of juvenile criminal records. Sometimes the records are even destroyed. Some states, however, simply seal the records. All these options are intended to give juvenile offenders a second chance or a fresh start as they enter into adulthood. This means that as an adult, the adolescent will not to tell future landlords or employers that they were arrested or have committed offenses in their youth. In addition, when applying for a job or a professional license, your juvenile criminal record will not be able to negatively drag you down. You criminal history will come up blank in most circumstances unless there are no future offenses.

But even for juvenile offenses, there are limits. Some states for instance, do not allow for expungement for minors if the crimes received a first degree conviction, or if the minor has too many repeat offenses. In many cases, when the person with the juvenile record has criminal convictions later as an adult, the request to expunge their record may be denied. The qualifications for sealing a juvenile record often look at the type of offense committed, such as ones that would be considered felonies as an adult. As a general rule, crimes committed by juveniles are hidden from the view of the public, unless they are particularly heinous. In addition, the person requesting the sealing must be an adult over the age of 18 in most cases. The expungement of a juvenile record also depends on the time when the offense was committed. A juvenile record often cannot be sealed until a certain period of time has passed, depending on the state. The process of getting a juvenile record expunged includes first, filing a petition and paying a fee. After the sealing of the record, the crimes that were committed are often treated like they had never even happened in the first place. However, in specific cases, the record may be visible with law enforcement agencies who decide to run a background check, for example. Also, juvenile crimes expunged from a record may be used to increase the severity of a sentence that may happen later.

In California, juvenile criminal records are sealed and inaccessible by the general public according to California Rule of Court 5.552, and Welfare and Institution Code section 827. Prior to age 18, only court personnel, parents, the minor, legal guardians, and attorneys involved in those cases or subsequent cases can access a minor’s criminal record. Once a person turns age 18, they have the option to petition the court to have the record permanently sealed. The record will become unavailable to any interested parties, and destroyed five years after sealing. According to Welfare and Institutions Code 389(c), 781(d), and 826, the court may rule to keep the records from being sealed and later destroyed. When a dependent turns age 28, or a ward of the state turns 21 or 38, records will also be sealed and destroyed.

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