Quick guide to help those who were arrested as minors but never brought to Juvenile Court in order to keep their records clean so they can enjoy a successful future.
Can I Get The Arrest Sealed?
Yes! You will want to have any record of your arrest sealed (i.e. destroyed) so that a background check will never prevent you from great opportunities for success in the future. This sealing process does not work for arrests or citations for infractions, however.
How Do I Do It?
If you were only arrested, or had to just go to Probation, or were never arrested and simply investigated, you can still seek to have records of these events sealed. And you can do that as long as you are now 18 or it has been 5 years since the arrest, going to Probation, or the conclusion of the investigation; whichever comes first. If the court grants your request to have these records sealed, then they will be ordered destroyed by all agencies and will be deemed never to have existed and the incident subject to those reports deemed legally to never to have occurred.
What if I was innocent?
In addition to having your records sealed, you will want to get a finding of factual innocence so that there will never be any confusion or assumption that you committed a crime as a minor.
What is the process for a finding of factual innocence?
There is a detailed process that you must follow that is outlined in WIC 781.5. Basically, you need to wait until the statute of limitations for the offense for which you were arrested has run prior to requesting this type of sealing. You must first request sealing with the arresting agency and the local probation department to have your records sealed due to factual innocence. If it gets denied (no response within 60 days is considered a denial), you may then petition a Juvenile Court to consider your request for sealing. There are a number of detailed notice requirements and court procedures to follow at this stage and it would be advisable to consult the assistance of a local experienced juvenile defense attorney. If you or your parents cannot afford one, then you should seek out the help of the public defender in your area.
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