Sealing Juvenile Misdemeanor Arrest Records

A minor arrested for a misdemeanor may have the arrest record and records sealed if (Penal Code 851.7.):

  • Minor was released for lack of probable cause
  • Juvenile court proceedings were dismissed, or
  • Minor was acquitted

Some misdemeanor crimes are not eligible for this relief including arrests for registerable sex offenses, some drug offenses, or traffic offenses.   (Penal Code 851.7(e).)  If a court grants relief, the records will be sealed and the proceedings will be deemed never to have occurred.  (Penal Code 851.7(b).)   Section 851.7 relief doesn’t apply to minors who are taken into temporary custody under Welfare & Institutions Code section 625 then released without further proceedings.   

California Juvenile Misdemeanor Record Sealing Law   

California Penal Code Section 851.7

(a) Any person who has been arrested for a misdemeanor, with or without a warrant, while a minor, may, during or after minority, petition the court in which the proceedings occurred or, if there were no court proceedings, the court in whose jurisdiction the arrest occurred, for an order sealing the records in the case, including any records of arrest and detention, if any of the following occurred:

   (1) He was released pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) of Section 849.

   (2) Proceedings against him were dismissed, or he was discharged, without a conviction.

   (3) He was acquitted.

   (b) If the court finds that the petitioner is eligible for relief under subdivision (a), it shall issue its order granting the relief prayed for. Thereafter, the arrest, detention, and any further proceedings in the case shall be deemed not to have occurred, and the petitioner may answer accordingly any question relating to their occurrence.

   (c) This section applies to arrests and any further proceedings that occurred before, as well as those that occur after, the effective date of this section.

   (d) This section does not apply to any person taken into custody pursuant to Section 625 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, or to any case within the scope of Section 781 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, unless, after a finding of unfitness for the juvenile court or otherwise, there were criminal proceedings in the case, not culminating in conviction. If there were criminal proceedings not culminating in conviction, this section shall be applicable to such criminal proceedings if such proceedings are otherwise within the scope of this section.

   (e) This section does not apply to arrests for, and any further proceedings relating to, any of the following:

   (1) Offenses for which registration is required under Section 290.

   (2) Offenses under Division 10 (commencing with Section 11000) of the Health and Safety Code.

   (3) Offenses under the Vehicle Code or any local ordinance relating to the operation, stopping, standing, or parking of a vehicle.

   (f) In any action or proceeding based upon defamation, a court, upon a showing of good cause, may order any records sealed under his section to be opened and admitted in evidence. The records shall be confidential and shall be available for inspection only by the court, jury, parties, counsel for the parties, and any other person who is authorized by the court to inspect them. Upon the judgment in the action or proceeding becoming final, the court shall order the records sealed.

   (g) This section shall apply in any case in which a person was under the age of 21 at the time of the commission of an offense as to which this section is made applicable if such offense was committed prior to March 7, 1973.