Written by attorney Matthew Blake Wallin

How to Seal Your Juvenile Criminal Record

The right to seal your juvenile record is available in most juvenile cases, with certain exceptions. Laws vary from state to state so be sure to check with your local juvenile court for the correct procedure. The information below applies to California but may be similar in your state.

California Welfare and Institutions Code § 781 is the statute that gives you the legal right to have your juvenile record sealed.

What is a juvenile record?

A juvenile record includes all the papers and court records in your case, and all orders by the judge in your juvenile court file. It includes any recorded contact with law enforcement or probation agencies.

A juvenile record also includes all papers relating to your case which are kept by other agencies, such as the probation department, the district attorney's office, and the police.

When can you ask to have your juvenile record sealed?

You can ask to have your juvenile record sealed five years or more after juvenile court jurisdiction has ended or after you have reached the age of 18, whichever comes first. (T.N.G. v. Superior Court (1971) 4 Cal.3d 767)

Most juvenile wards would petition to seal their records after they turn 18.

Who can have a juvenile record sealed?

Minors are entitled to petition the juvenile court to seal their records right after they turn 18. However, some courts require a minimum period of "good behavior" between the end of juvenile probation and the filing of a petition.

You must not have been convicted, as an adult, of any felony or any misdemeanor involving "moral turpitude". ("Moral Turpitude" is defined as crimes that show baseness, vileness, depravity, or which violate moral sentiment or accepted moral standards of the community, such as crimes involving theft, fraud, sex, or drugs.)

You must be able to show the court:

  1. You have been "rehabilitated";
  2. that your case started and ended in juvenile court; and
  3. that you do not have an open civil suit regarding the actions that caused your juvenile record. (But once the civil suit has ended, your record can be sealed.)

You must pay in full all previous fines or restitution owed to the court as an adult or juvenile, including any traffic fines.

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