What is a juvenile record?
Your juvenile record includes all records held by the police department, the court, the district attorney, and the probation department for any criminal activity you were found to be involved in when you were under 18.
Why should you seal your record?
Your juvenile record will not be automatically sealed when you turn 18. You need to obtain a judicial order to seal it; until then, might be accessible to prospective employers, state licensing agencies, lenders, landlords, and school officials. That means your juvenile record can interfere with your ability to get a job, loans, a driver's license, citizenship, and pursue educational opportunities.
If you have been adjudicated for a registerable sex offense, sealing your record will relieve you from the registration requirement and destroy all registration information.
Once you've sealed your record, it's as if the offenses never took place (with the exceptions below). You can legally say you have never been arrested or adjudicated for the sealed offenses. You can even legally say you have never sealed your juvenile record.
Update October 2015
A new law was passed that allows anyone who completed probation on or after January 1, 2016, to have their juvenile record automatically sealed for free by the court. (Welfare and Institutions Code §786). This will include all records held by law enforcement, probation and the Department of Justice (DOJ). Records held by any other public agency, for example in schools or other counties, may not be automatically sealed, and you may need to ask the court to seal those records.
For cases that ended in January 2015, if you have completed probation then you're court records may be automatically sealed, but you may need to petition the court to seal any law enforcement, probation, or DOJ records. For cases that ended before January 2015, you must to petition the court to seal your record and pay your county's record sealing fees if you are age 26 or older. Contact your county's juvenile court to request information about your case.
After your record has been sealed, who can still access it?
- Insurance companies will still be able to access your driving records through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for the purpose of setting your rates.
- The Federal Government, including branches of the military service, has access to your sealed records. All juvenile records must be reported, even if sealed, when applying for a security clearance or employment with a private company that engages in business with the Federal Government.
- A prosecuting attorney, the probation department, or the court may access your sealed record to determine your eligibility for some programs and services.
- Your record can be "unsealed" if the sealed offense would qualify as a "strike" under the Three Strikes Law, and you have been convicted of another "strikable" offense.
After your record has been sealed, when will it be destroyed?
Your record will be destroyed as follows: