Guide to sealing juvenile court records
The guide contains information about
- Sealing juvenile records
- Who is eligible to have their record sealed
- How to ask to have your records sealed
Sealing juvenile court records
Do you have a juvenile record?
If you were arrested or involved in a court case or had contact with the juvenile justice system when you were under 18, the courts, police, schools, or other public agencies may have records about what you did.
For certain types of cases, a court can automatically seal juvenile records. For other types of cases, you can ask the court to seal them.
These instructions are only for juvenile records, not records of adult convictions. If you were convicted in adult criminal court as a minor, find out about cleaning an adult record.
How a juvenile record can affect you and how sealing it can help
If you have a juvenile record that is not sealed, it could make it harder for you to
Find a job
Get a driver’s license
Get a loan
Rent an apartment
Go to college
When the court seals your records, it means that your court case no longer exists for most purposes. This means that you can legally and truthfully say you do not have a criminal record when someone asks about your criminal history. If the court seals a record that required you to register as a sex offender, the order will say you do not have to continue to register.
You do not need to report sealed juvenile records on your job, school, or other applications. There may be an exception to this if you want to join the military or get a federal security clearance. If you need advice or have more questions about what the employer might be able to see or use, talk to a lawyer.
Some government agencies and the court can access sealed juvenile records, but only for specific purposes.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
The DMV can share your vehicle and traffic records with insurance companies.
The court may see your records if you are a witness in a case, involved in a defamation case, or apply for extended foster care benefits.
A prosecutor (or probation department)
The prosecutor and others can look at your record to determine if you are eligible to participate in a deferred entry of judgment program. A prosecutor can also see the record to look to see if there's information that may help a defendant in another case.
Prosecutor or judge
If you were a victim to certain crimes and seek certification in connection with an immigration matter, the judge or prosecutor can see the record to determine if you were helpful in an investigation or proscecution.
If your sealed record is for a Welfare and Institutions Code section 707(b) offense and you're later charged with a felony, the prosecution can later ask to unseal the record.
You can get more information about who can access or unseal the records in How to Ask the Court to Seal your Records (form JV-595-INFO).
Who qualifies to have their record sealed
Generally, you can ask to have your records sealed if
- You're at least 18 years old or its been at least 5 years since your case closed
- The court is satisfied that you have been rehabilitated
You are not eligible if as an adult you were convicted of a crime of moral turpitude (like murder, a sex crime, serious drug offense, or fraud).
There are other requirements if you want to seal a conviction listed in Welfare and Institutions Code section 707(b) (serious and violent offenses). To ask to seal an offense under section 707(b), you must be either
- 21 years of age and have completed supervision by the Division of Juvenile Justice, or
- 18 years of age and have completed your probation supervision
If the court seals these records, it will not destroy them. The prosecution, probation, or the court can access the records if you have a later felony case.
You're not eligible if, when you were 14 years old or older, you committed a sex offense listed in Welfare and Institutions Code section 707(b) which required you to register as a sex offender under Penal Code section 290.008.
How to ask to have your record sealed
If your records were not sealed automatically by the court, you will need to ask the court to seal your records. If your case was dismissed before January 1, 2015, it is very likely you will need to do this.
There is no cost to ask to seal your records. But, it can take months. If you think you might want your record sealed in the future, contact the probation department where your case happened to find out how to get started.