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Sealing/Expunging juvenile record if I want to become a peace officer?

Santa Ana, CA |

I got assault with a deadly weapon (a bat) as a minor, and went to juvenile court. I was protecting a friend at the time from repeated unwanted advances by another person. I was sent to camp for 9 months. This was almost 10 years ago, I am now 27 and have had a clean record since.

I have heard mixed answers so far. This mostly pertains to whether or not I was "convicted" because I have zero chance if it counts as a conviction. I have heard that it was an adjudication and not a conviction since it was in juvenile court.
Also, for the same reason, how does this affect my eligibility to possess a firearm? As I will obviously need to be able to do so in order to attend the police academy.

What steps do I need to take?

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

There are two separate issues here:
(1) whether you can qualify for POST certification which is required of all California peace officers; and
(2) whether you can compete in the employment market and obtain employment by a law enforcement agency.

Your prior crime is not a conviction; it is an adjudication. But that is not necessarily the definitive the end of the issue. Here is the web-site with the POST criteria, and you need to do some due diligence on the issue of your eligibility for POST cert:
http://post.ca.gov/california-government-code-gc-requirements.aspx You may want to utilize legal counsel on this issue to assist you in interpreting and applying the criteria to your specific history.

If you are cleared for POST certification, individual law enforcement agencies are free under State law to offer you employment as a peace officer. Some agencies will have in place department-specific employment policies that disallow employment of you, but most do not. Even so, you will need to compete with other candidates for employment for a position, and your juvenile history will be considered as part of your background investigation. So, depending on the facts and circumstances underlying the adjudication, you may or may not be successful in obtaining law enforcement employment.

You may as well give it a shot. Worst case, you don't succeed and you won't be a cop. But you aren't going to be a cop in any event if you don't try. So, there is no real downside to making a run at it other than your investment of time and effort.

My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.

Christine C McCall

Christine C McCall

Posted

More from POST web-site: Q.If a candidate was convicted of a felony as a juvenile, is he/she ineligible to become a peace officer? A.In California, all felony-level “convictions” in juvenile court are considered misdemeanors, regardless of the nature of the offense. Exceptions would be where a juvenile is certified, tried, and convicted as an adult in California, or if the juvenile was convicted under the federal system. In the latter case, a Certificate of Rehabilitation from the U.S. Justice Department must have been granted to the candidate in order to vitiate the felony conviction. Q.Must peace officer candidates disclose juvenile records that occurred after they were 15 years old if they have been sealed or expunged? A.This remains a matter of interpretation, and one which has not been definitively resolved in the courts. While, as a matter of law, peace officer candidates are generally held to a higher standard of performance than applicants for non-peace officer positions and the courts have held that expungements are ineffective when considering a peace officer, this principle may not apply when a juvenile record has been sealed or expunged pursuant to Penal Code section 851.7.

Asker

Posted

Thank you Christine! This has been the most insightful and helpful information I have found so far. I will likely still try to petition to have my record sealed/expunged as I am certain it will look better on my record, than not. I am most certainly glad to hear that my juvenile record will not be an immediate bar to my goals. I know it will be an uphill battle, but I am determined as long as I am qualified to apply for and attend POST certification. Thank you!

Christine C McCall

Christine C McCall

Posted

Email me off-site and I will send you some additional info that may be helpful.

Posted

Contact the Juvenile Delinquency Division of the Orange County Public Defender's Office. They should help you. I know that the Delinquency Division of the San Diego County Public Defender's Office helps anyone who calls for a juvie sealing. They will also be able to look and see what you were adjudicated of. It will be important to see if it was a WIC 707(b) offense.

Good Luck!

Leighton D'Antoni
Attorney at Law

Criminal Defense Law Offices of Leighton D'Antoni
Founders Square
900 Jackson St. Suite 750
Dallas, TX 75202
(214) 960-9360 (phone)
(214) 666-3901 (fax)
DANTONILAW.COM

*licensed to practice law in the States of Texas and California

This response is NOT legal advice and we do not have an attorney client relationship. You should only follow legal advice from your own attorney.

Christine C McCall

Christine C McCall

Posted

We aren't seeing much real help available these days from the public agencies, most likely because of the crushing financial crisis in State funding over the past few years. Virtually every public agency law office has been hit with lay-offs and/or furloughs and have had to pare their work to the essentials. Delays of 2+ years to even consider a petition re sealing have been quoted to some who have asked in recent months. But a number of the county PD offices have published useful written "self-help" type info on their web-sites. And some Calif public agencies are beginning to show evidence of a slow but definite return to the fuller slate of services.

Robert Lee Marshall

Robert Lee Marshall

Posted

Welfare & Institutions Code 707(b)(18) includes "A felony offense in which the minor personally used a weapon described in any provision listed in Section 16590 of the Penal Code." Penal Code 16590(m) lists billy clubs, and case law says a baseball bat is a billy club if used as a weapon.

Posted

Assault with a deadly weapon, Penal Code 245(a)(1), is one of the offenses listed in Welfare & Institutions Code 707(b).

Under Penal Code 29280, a juvenile who was adjudged a ward of the court for commission of a 707(b) offense cannot possess a firearm until the age of 30.

A juvenile adjudication for a 707(b) offense can not be sealed. (A so-called "expungement" is actually a dismissal of an adult conviction under Penal Code 1203.4, which wouldn't be helpful in your situation, even if it applied).

What's more, it sounds like you were 16 or older at the time of the juvenile offense. Because your offense was a 707(b) offense and is also listed as a serious felony under Penal Code 1192.7(c)(23), it it a "strike" under the Three Strikes Law, which would increase the punishment for any future felony offenses.

I don't like to discourage people, but as a criminal defense attorney, I can tell you that I would love to have this sort of information about any police officer who was testifying against one of my clients, and the District Attorney would have to disclose it to the lawyer for each and person you investigated or arrested. With that kind of liability, I doubt that any law enforcement agency would take the risk on hiring you, even if you were able to get POST certified.

Please understand that this is a general discussion of legal principles by a California lawyer and does not create an attorney/client relationship. It's impossible to give detailed, accurate advice based on a few sentences on a website (and you shouldn't provide too much specific information about your legal matter on a public forum like this site, anyway). You should always seek advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction who can give you an informed opinion after reviewing all of the relevant information.

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