California Juvenile Record Sealing

A minor can seal their juvenile records by filing a petition to seal their records.  (Welfare & Institutions Code 781.)  The petition may be filed 5 years after the termination of juvenile court jurisdiction or when the juvenile reaches 18, whichever is earlier.  To be eligible for relief, the person must not have been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude and no pending civil litigation arising from the incident. 

Benefits of Juvenile Record Sealing

If the petition is granted, arrest and other records, papers, and exhibits will be sealed and the Department of Justice will be ordered to destroy the records.  (Welfare and Institution Code 781(a))  Once the records are sealed, “the proceedings…shall be deemed never to have occurred and the person may properly reply accordingly to any inquiry.”  (Welfare and Institution Code 781(a)) 

Destruction of Juvenile Records

Sealed records must be destroyed, unless good cause exists, when a person charged under Welfare and Institutions code 602 reaches age 38.  (Welfare and Institution Code 781(d))  Minor’s charged under other juvenile court provisions may have their records destroyed at an earlier age.   The petition may also request that other agencies having juvenile criminal records to destroy them.   (Welfare and Institution Code 826)  Once the records are destroyed under this section, “the proceedings…shall be deemed never to have occurred and the person may properly reply accordingly to any inquiry.”  (Welfare and Institution Code 826(a))    

Juveniles Ineligible for Record Sealing

No sealing of records is permitted for an offense listed in Welfare and Institutions Code 707(b) which was committed when the minor was 14 or older.  (Welfare & Institution Code 781(a) and (d).)        

California Welfare and Institutions Code 707 (b)

(b) Subdivision (c) shall be applicable in any case in which a minor is alleged to be a person described in Section 602 by reason of the violation of one of the following offenses:

   (1) Murder.

   (2) Arson, as provided in subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 451 of the Penal Code.

   (3) Robbery.

   (4) Rape with force, violence, or threat of great bodily harm.

   (5) Sodomy by force, violence, duress, menace, or threat of great bodily harm.

   (6) A lewd or lascivious act as provided in subdivision (b) of Section 288 of the Penal Code.

   (7) Oral copulation by force, violence, duress, menace, or threat of great bodily harm.

   (8) An offense specified in subdivision (a) of Section 289 of the Penal Code.

   (9) Kidnapping for ransom.

   (10) Kidnapping for purposes of robbery.

   (11) Kidnapping with bodily harm.

   (12) Attempted murder.

   (13) Assault with a firearm or destructive device.

   (14) Assault by any means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.

   (15) Discharge of a firearm into an inhabited or occupied building.

   (16) An offense described in Section 1203.09 of the Penal Code.

   (17) An offense described in Section 12022.5 or 12022.53 of the Penal Code.

   (18) A felony in which the minor personally used a weapon described in Penal Code Section 16590.

   (19) A felony offense described in Section 136.1 or 137 of the Penal Code.

   (20) Manufacturing, compounding, or selling one-half ounce or more of a salt or solution of a controlled substance specified in subdivision (e) of Section 11055 of the Health and Safety Code.

   (21) A violent felony, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 667.5 of the Penal Code, which also would constitute a felony violation of subdivision (b) of Section 186.22 of the Penal Code.

   (22) Escape, by the use of force or violence, from a county juvenile hall, home, ranch, camp, or forestry camp in violation of subdivision (b) of Section 871 if great bodily injury is intentionally inflicted upon an employee of the juvenile facility during the commission of the escape.

   (23) Torture as described in Sections 206 and 206.1 of the Penal Code.

   (24) Aggravated mayhem, as described in Section 205 of the Penal Code.

   (25) Carjacking, as described in Penal Code 215, while armed with a dangerous or deadly weapon.

   (26) Kidnapping for purposes of sexual assault, as punishable in subdivision (b) of Penal Code 209.

   (27) Kidnapping as punishable in Section 209.5 of the Penal Code.

   (28) The offense described in subdivision (c) of Section 26100 of the Penal Code.

   (29) The offense described in Section 18745 of the Penal Code.

   (30) Voluntary manslaughter, as described in subdivision (a) of Section 192 of the Penal Code.

California Juvenile Record Sealing Law   

California Welfare and Institutions Code 781

(a) In any case in which a petition has been filed with a juvenile court to commence proceedings to adjudge a person a ward of the court, in any case in which a person is cited to appear before a probation officer or is taken before a probation officer pursuant to Section 626, or in any case in which a minor is taken before any officer of a law enforcement agency, the person or the county probation officer may, five years or more after the jurisdiction of the juvenile court has terminated as to the person, or, in a case in which no petition is filed, five years or more after the person was cited to appear before a probation officer or was taken before a probation officer pursuant to Section 626 or was taken before any officer of a law enforcement agency, or, in any case, at any time after the person has reached the age of 18 years, petition the court for sealing of the records, including records of arrest, relating to the person’s case, in the custody of the juvenile court and probation officer and any other agencies, including law enforcement agencies, and public officials as the petitioner alleges, in his or her petition, to have custody of the records. The court shall notify the district attorney of the county and the county probation officer, if he or she is not the petitioner, and the district attorney or probation officer or any of their deputies or any other person having relevant evidence may testify at the hearing on the petition. If, after hearing, the court finds that since the termination of jurisdiction or action pursuant to Section 626, as the case may be, he or she has not been convicted of a felony or of any misdemeanor involving moral turpitude and that rehabilitation has been attained to the satisfaction of the court, it shall order all records, papers, and exhibits in the person’s case in the custody of the juvenile court sealed, including the juvenile court record, minute book entries, and entries on dockets, and any other records relating to the case in the custody of the other agencies and officials as are named in the order. In any case in which a ward of the juvenile court is subject to the registration requirements set forth in Section 290 of the Penal Code, a court, in ordering the sealing of the juvenile records of the person, also shall provide in the order that the person is relieved from the registration requirement and for the destruction of all registration information in the custody of the Department of Justice and other agencies and officials. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the court shall not order the person’s records sealed in any case in which the person has been found by the juvenile court to have committed an offense listed in subdivision (b) of Section 707 when he or she had attained 14 years of age or older. Once the court has ordered the person’s records sealed, the proceedings in the case shall be deemed never to have occurred, and the person may properly reply accordingly to any inquiry about the events, the records of which are ordered sealed. The court shall send a copy of the order to each agency and official named therein, directing the agency to seal its records and stating the date thereafter to destroy the sealed records. Each such agency and official shall seal the records in its custody as directed by the order, shall advise the court of its compliance, and thereupon shall seal the copy of the court’s order for sealing of records that it, he, or she received. The person who is the subject of records sealed pursuant to this section may petition the superior court to permit inspection of the records by persons named in the petition, and the superior court may so order. Otherwise, except as provided in subdivision (b), the records shall not be open to inspection.

   (b) In any action or proceeding based upon defamation, a court, upon a showing of good cause, may order any records sealed under this section to be opened and admitted into 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.

   (c) (1) Subdivision (a) does not apply to Department of Motor Vehicle records of any convictions for offenses under the Vehicle Code or any local ordinance relating to the operation, stopping and standing, or parking of a vehicle where the record of any such conviction would be a public record under Section 1808 of the Vehicle Code. However, if a court orders a case record containing any such conviction to be sealed under this section, and if the Department of Motor Vehicles maintains a public record of such a conviction, the court shall notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of the sealing and the department shall advise the court of its receipt of the notice. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, subsequent to the notification, the Department of Motor Vehicles shall allow access to its record of convictions only to the subject of the record and to insurers which have been granted requestor code numbers by the department. Any insurer to which such a record of conviction is disclosed, when such a conviction record has otherwise been sealed under this section, shall be given notice of the sealing when the record is disclosed to the insurer. The insurer may use the information contained in the record for purposes of determining eligibility for insurance and insurance rates for the subject of the record, and the information shall not be used for any other purpose nor shall it be disclosed by an insurer to any person or party not having access to the record.

   (2) This subdivision shall not be construed as preventing the sealing of any record which is maintained by any agency or party other than the Department of Motor Vehicles.

   (3) This subdivision shall not be construed as affecting the procedures or authority of the Department of Motor Vehicles for purging department records.

   (d) Unless for good cause the court determines that the juvenile court record shall be retained, the court shall order the destruction of a person’s juvenile court records that are sealed pursuant to this section as follows: five years after the record was ordered sealed, if the person who is the subject of the record was alleged or adjudged to be a person described by Section 601; or when the person who is the subject of the record reaches the age of 38 if the person was alleged or adjudged to be a person described by Section 602, except that if the subject of the record was found to be a person described in Section 602 because of the commission of an offense

listed in subdivision (b), of Section 707, when he or she was 14 years of age or older, the record shall not be destroyed. Any other agency in possession of sealed records may destroy its records five years after the record was ordered sealed.

   (e) This section shall not permit the sealing of a person’s juvenile court records for an offense where the person is convicted of that offense in a criminal court pursuant to the provisions of Section 707.1. This subdivision is declaratory of existing law.