How can you seal juvenile records in California?
A criminal history can have a profound impact on a person’s life, affecting future employment, housing and education. These consequences can create barriers to rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
Therefore, sealing juvenile records can provide a fresh start for individuals who have made mistakes in their youth. In California, the law recognizes the importance of rehabilitation and offers a process to seal these records.
Determining eligibility for sealing juvenile records
To be eligible for sealing juvenile records in California, a person must meet certain criteria. Generally, individuals who have completed probation or have turned 18 years old can begin the process.
Fortunately, the state automatically seals certain cases, including:
- Less serious offenses that the court dismissed in 2015 and beyond
- Cases for defendants who completed a pre-petition diversion program
- Youths who qualified for a deferred entry of judgment
A person with other types of cases may request the court to seal the records with a formal petition. However, serious violations, such as violent crimes or sex offenses, are usually not eligible for sealing.
Filing the petition
To initiate the process of sealing juvenile records, an individual must file a petition with the court. The petition will provide key information, such as the applicant’s personal details, case number and reasons for seeking record sealing. Including all required documents with the petition prevents any delays.
Obtaining supporting documents
To strengthen the petition, an applicant can gather supporting documents, such as proof of completion of probation, certificates of rehabilitation or any relevant evidence demonstrating rehabilitation efforts. These documents will reinforce the case for sealing the records.
Serving the petition
After assembling the petition and supporting documents, the applicant can serve a copy of the petition to the district attorney’s office and any other relevant parties. This step allows all concerned individuals to be aware of the request to seal the records.
Attending the court hearing
After serving the petition, the court will schedule a hearing. By attending the hearing, the applicant can present a case for sealing the juvenile records.
During the hearing, a judge evaluates the petition and supporting documents, considering factors such as the individual’s behavior, rehabilitation efforts and the potential impact of sealing the records. If the judge agrees with the request, the court seals the records, making them unavailable to the public.
Sealing juvenile records in California offers an opportunity to move forward without the burden of past mistakes. By following the outlined steps, eligible individuals can navigate the process smoothly, increasing their chances of obtaining a fresh start.