There is no reason to guess about what will show up on your record. And no good reason to gamble by making disclosures and responses on a State license application without knowing your facts. Order up your criminal record. Calif Dept of Justice report is obtainable everywhere in the State, just Google Live Scan. Very inexpensive; takes just a few days. FBI NCIC report: order your record through the FBI's web-site.
Many people with juvenile records believe that their record was automatically sealed. That is not so. Sealing happens in response to a petition to the court by the offender. If your juvenile record shows up on the Live Scan or NCIC, then you should promptly file a petition to have your record sealed. Petty theft is a sealable offense.
If you are applying for State license, you have to respond to a series of questions on the application that ask if you have ever been arrested or convicted of a criminal offense. Be very very careful with these questions. Make no assumptions and do not respond with anything that is not 100% true. Any response that the State believes is less than full and responsive and wholly accurate is a very serious offense and will put you in serious and potentially irremediable jeopardy as to the license.
Since you were a minor at the time of conviction, the record (if it exists) should show that you have been adjudicated -- not convicted. But California State licensing agencies are not consistent in their understanding that adjudications are not convictions and should not have to be disclosed on the State license applications. The better response -- if the record exists -- is to respond with something along the lines of "no convictions; juvenile adjudication (infraction) only. Petition for Sealing is pending in [name of court]."
I am laughing out loud at your statement that you do not want to deal with "this hassle." You are applying for a State license! If you are successful in your license application, you will come to know and understand "hassle" in a way that you cannot even guess at right now. Really, you really have no idea.
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If you didn't have your juvenile record sealed at 18 it still exists. You can have it sealed now but you probably want to move more quickly than that. A juvenile "conviction"is not really a conviction but an "adjudication" so you could take the position that since the question doesn't ask about "adjudications" you don't have to provide that information. The incident will show up on your rap sheet, however, so you risk being accused of not telling the truth. Full disclosure probably will not hurt your chances.
I agree with my colleagues. Request your records. Do it right the first time.
Jamahl C. Kersey (619) 399-3662 is an Immigration, Criminal Defense and Personal Injury attorney licensed in CA. The answer above is provided for informational use only. One should not act or refrain to act solely based on the information provided. No attorney/client relationship is created unless an Agreement is signed by the attorney and the client. Best regards, Jamahl C. Kersey KERSEY & SABAWI 5703 Oberlin Drive Suite 201 San Diego, CA 92121 Tel: 619.399.3662 Fax: 888.765.5894 email@example.com www.kerseysabawi.com