I had two offenses on my record when I was a minor (14 yrs old). The charges were a misdemeanor for grafitti and Grand Theft Auto felony offense. I was never convicted of the GTA crime, since I was a passenger in a stolen vehicle at the time, and my charges were dropped. But this still shows on my record, which confuses me since there was no conviction. Can these charges be sealed under Section 1203.45? I am now 35 yrs old, had no subsequent convictions, and applying for a license with the State. Since the GTA offense is an automatic disqualification for the State requirements in applying for the license, I need to know if this can be done. Please help.
Administrative Law Lawyer
You are on the wrong track here, but you can easily get on the right course.
P C 1203.4 has nothing to do with sealing a juvenile record -- nothing. It pertains only to post-conviction dismissals of adult criminal convictions.
You seal your juvenile record by a petition to the juvenile court in which you were convicted and the authorizing statute is the CA Welfare & Institutions Code (generally, §§ 781, 389 and 826.) There is in the W & I a long list of crimes that cannot be sealed, but Grand Theft Auto is not one of them and neither is graffiti or malicious mischief (vandalism).
The petition re sealing process can be time-consuming and the papers can be intricate, but this is a task that is worth doing right the first time. That means you would be best advised to use legal counsel. Pick one who is active in juvenile law in the courthouse where you must bring your petition. If your crimes are not on the list of disallowed, the Order re Sealing will be granted.
Juvenile crimes are not convictions, they are adjudications.
BTW, it doesn't really matter since your record will be sealed, but GTA is not a per se disqualifying record for State license. Almost no criminal convictions are per se disqualifiers. All state licensing agencies are required to make an assessment of the individual application for license, weighing the facts and circumstances underlying the criminal conviction and all evidence of rehabilitation and mitigation. Many persons with prior criminal history can achieve State licensure. But, with a sealed record, this is for your information only.
When you apply for State license, the application will not make it clear whether you are required to acknowledge and disclose your sealed juvenile record. You can answer by reference to the Superior Court's Order re Sealing and the agency will NOT inquire further. The present policy of the State is that it does not intend to penetrate orders for sealing of records.
Congratulations on your success as an adult. Get this old matter retired, apply for State license, and have a great career and life.
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Criminal Defense Attorney
As a Former Deputy District Attorney, and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist, with over 25 years of experience, my office has handled many juvenile sealing petitions. You can attempt to do this by yourself or retain counsel to attempt to get your juvenile record sealed. I don't know the other charge you have on your juvenile record, so I can't say for sure that your record is sealable. I would need to have more facts. I wish you the best...................David
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Criminal Defense Attorney
You have a few issues that should be addressed with your situation. First, you should know that an expungement under 1203.4 will not necessarily erase your crimes in the way you may think. An expungement essentially transforms a conviction into a dismissal, so when a background check is done your case will show up as an arrest and a subsequent dismissal (it will not just go away and never show up again.) Only sealing of records will prevent cases from showing up at all, which is an entirely different process. With that being said, an expungement is still a beneficial process because you are no longer required to disclose to employers you were convicted of a crime and they are not supposed to consider expunged cases.
The second issue is that if you were never convicted of the GTA, it is only showing up as an arrest, and thus an expugement would not do much for you anyway since they don't erase arrest records. Again, only sealing will erase this arrest from your record. However, a mere arrest with no conviction should not affect your license, particularly a juvenile arrest.
Lastly, because these incidents happened when you were a juvenile, it is likely they will not be an issue with either your license or future employment opportunities. Juvenile records are often sealed or simply not considered by employers. I suggest moving forward with the expungement, but also look a bit more into sealing and the specifics of your licensing requirements. It is always a good idea to hire an attorney to complete your expungement process, but if you would like to do it yourself the California Courts website has a very good self-help section (www.courts.ca.gov). Good luck!
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Juvenile Law Attorney
You can seal those records, or have an attorney do it for you, under Welfare and Intuitions Code 781. It's a process that takes between 6 weeks- 3 months, depending on the backlog. There are forms to fill out, and a very brief interview (can be telephonic) with probation.
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