Criminal defendants who faced charges while under the age of 18 may be able to get their record sealed, including enforcement records, records of the district attorney, records of the probation office, and records of the court. When a record is sealed it means that the court has ordered that the charges that brought one to court no longer exist. This aids in a defendant’s future as he or she can truthfully answer ‘no’ when asked about a criminal history or when a background check is conducted. For jobs requiring a high clearance, such as those in the military, the sealing of a record does not prohibit the employer from seeing it.
Qualifications to Seal
You are qualified to have your record sealed if:
- You are at least 18
- It has been at least five years since your case was closed or probation was successfully terminated
- A judge finds you have been rehabilitated
Your record cannot be sealed if the court finds that you committed a serious offense enumerated in the Welfare and Institutions Code section 707(b) at age 14 or older, or if you are attempting to seal a record of an adult conviction in criminal court, or if you were convicted as an adult of an offense involving “moral turpitude”.
In certain cases the court will automatically seal a record. In other cases you must petition the court to do so. Cases that trigger automatic sealing are dismissals in the juvenile court obtained after January 1, 2015 in which the defendant was not found to have committed offenses such as killing, raping, kidnapping or certain drug or weapon related offenses (offenses enumerated in the Welfare and Institutions Code section 707(b)).
Automatic sealing of a record also occurs in cases where probation was completed successfully. The court in this situation dismisses your case and automatically seals the record. If the court does not dismiss your case it will not be sealed automatically and you will need to petition the court to seal your record.
The procedures vary in each county for sealing records. There is often paperwork as well as a fee. If you are on probation, the probation office will investigate and research your case to determine if you are eligible for your record to be sealed. Probation has 90 days to review your forms and inform the court of your eligibility for sealing your record. Once the court orders your record sealed the law treats those offenses as though they never occurred. Therefore, you do not need to report them on job or school applications if asked. Keep in mind that military and federal agencies may be able to see sealed juvenile records.
Consult an Attorney
If you believe you are eligible to have a juvenile record sealed, you should contact a criminal defense attorney who understands the procedures necessary to effectuate your request. Ozols Law Firm can help you petition the court to seal your juvenile record. Contact our office today for your free consultation.
Ozols Law Firm
8880 Rio San Diego Dr #22
San Diego, CA 92108