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Having a Juvenile Record Sealed in California

If you committed a criminal offense when you were a juvenile, that criminal record can sometimes follow you into adulthood. Starting out with a criminal record can create many disadvantages. For instance, a criminal record can show up on job searches, impact your ability to rent an apartment or go to college. Fortunately, in many cases, your juvenile criminal records can be sealed. If this is an option for you, you should consider taking the time and going through the appropriate steps to seal your record.

When can your records be sealed?

To have your records sealed you must be at least 18, or it must have been five years since the juvenile court’s jurisdiction over you terminated. In many cases, juvenile records are automatically sealed. This is the case for individuals completed their probationary period, whose cases were dismissed after January 1, 2015, and who did not commit one of the serious offenses from the California Welfare and Institutions Code section 707(b) when they were 14 or older. For individuals who have not completed their probation, it is necessary to petition the court to seal your records.

Individuals will not be able to have their records sealed if they were convicted of a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude if they were tried as an adult. Crimes of moral turpitude are often crimes that involve dishonesty and are described as “vile” or things that would “shock the public conscience.” Fraud, extortion, forgery, and perjury are just a few of the crimes that are often considered to be crimes of moral turpitude, but there are many more.

Will my records be seen by anyone once they are sealed?

Sealing your records makes it so that under most circumstances, you are considered not to have any criminal record at all. Some agencies will still be able to see your sealed records for certain specific purposes. For instance, prosecutors can see your records if you are tried for another crime, and foster care agencies can look at your records to determine the appropriate living arrangements. If you were to be called as a witness in a defamation case, your sealed records could be used. Car insurance companies will have access to DMV records so crimes that involve vehicle codes could still appear there.

However, if you are asked whether you have been convicted of a crime, or arrested, you can truthfully answer “no” once your records are sealed.

How to seal records

It can take months to complete the process of sealing your records. You will have to file a petition with the juvenile court in the county in which your most recent conviction occurred. Once the petition is filed, you will receive a date for a hearing in front of a judge. At the hearing, you, or your attorney, will be able to present your case for why your records should be sealed. The District Attorney might provide evidence as well. The judge will then make a determination on whether or not your record should be sealed. If your petition is denied, it is often possible to refile.

If you have a juvenile criminal record, it is possible that you could have that record sealed. Sealing your juvenile record will create opportunities for you in the future. An experienced criminal law attorney can help guide you through the process of sealing your records. Contact Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox LLP today at 909-798-3300 for a free consultation.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.