Do you have questions about sealing a juvenile record in California? You can read our frequently asked questions below or just take our free online eligibility test to determine if your juvenile record is eligible for sealing.
Simply click on a question to see its answer:
Unfortunately, yes. Proposition 21 changed what juveniles are able to seal in two ways: a. If you were charged with a “serious violent felony” under 707(b) when you were 14 or older, you cannot seal this offense, and b. If your case was heard in adult court, and you were convicted in adult court, you cannot seal this record. However, you may be able to dismiss your conviction in adult court. Please see the section on expungement.
Murder, Arson, as provided in subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 451 of the Penal Code, Robbery, Rape with force, violence, or threat of great bodily harm, Sodomy by force, violence, duress, menace, or threat of great bodily harm, A lewd or lascivious act as provided in subdivision (b) of Section 288 of the Penal Code, Oral copulation by force, violence, duress, menace, or threat of great bodily harm, An offense specified in subdivision (a) of Section 289 of the Penal Code, Kidnapping for ransom, Kidnapping for purposes of robbery, Kidnapping with bodily harm, Attempted murder, Assault with a firearm or destructive device, Assault by any means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, Discharge of a firearm into an inhabited or occupied building, An offense described in Section 1203.09 of the Penal Code, an offense described in Section 12022.5 or 12022.53 of the Penal Code, A felony offense in which the minor personally used a weapon listed in subdivision (a) of Section 12020 of the Penal Code, A felony offense described in Section 136.1 or 137 of the Penal Code, 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, 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, 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, Torture as described in Sections 206 and 206.1 of the Penal Code, Aggravated mayhem, as described in Section 205 of the Penal Code, Carjacking, as described in Section 215 of the Penal Code, while armed with a dangerous or deadly weapon, Kidnapping for purposes of sexual assault, as punishable in subdivision (b) of Section 209 of the Penal Code, Kidnapping as punishable in Section 209.5 of the Penal Code, The offense described in subdivision (c) of Section 12034 of the Penal Code, The offense described in Section 12308 of the Penal Code, Voluntary manslaughter, as described in subdivision (a) of Section 192 of the Penal Code.
If you have any felony convictions or misdemeanor convictions involving moral turpitude, then you are not eligible to seal your juvenile record. (Welfare and Institutions Code 781(a))
Neither the legislature nor the courts in California have provided a clear definition of what “moral turpitude” means for purposes of sealing juvenile records. However, based on court cases dealing with other issues, there are two classes of “moral turpitude” crimes. The first class is crimes that involve “general readiness to do evil.” See People v. Castro (1985); Clerici v. Dep't of Motor Vehicles, 224 Cal. App. 3d 1016 (1990). Examples of this include possession of a deadly weapon with intent to commit assault (People v. Rivera, 107 Cal. App. 4th 1374 (2003)), domestic violence (Donley v. Davi, 180 Cal. App. 4th 447), murder (People v. Johnson, 233 Cal. App. 3d 425 (1991), crimes involving drug trafficking (People v. Gabriel, 206 Cal. App. 4th 450 (2012); Clerici v. Dep't of Motor Vehicles, 224 Cal. App. 3d 1016 (1990)) and most sex crimes (People v. Chavez, 84 Cal. App. 4th 25 (2000)). The second class is crimes that involve dishonesty as an element, such as fraud, theft, or perjury. (People v. Hunt, 169 Cal. App. 3d 668 (1985)).
We will be glad to work with you to get a copy of your record and review what can be done. We charge a researching fee, and we apply that to the cost of any service that you hire us to perform.
Sealings must be filed and completed separately per case. Therefore, we charge per case (regardless of the number of counts in each case); however, if you sign up for multiple cases, we do offer a discount on the additional cases.
If your offense is a “wobbler,” then you can file with the court to have your felony reduced to a misdemeanor. A “wobbler” is an offense that could have been a misdemeanor or felony at the time of the conviction. It does not matter if you were sentenced to California Youth Authority. If you would like us to determine if your case is a “wobbler,” then you can call our office with the Penal Code section number you were convicted of and the year that you were convicted.
Cases are denied for the following reasons: (1) an inaccuracy in the court file, (2) an inaccuracy in the application, (3) the court does not believe a record sealing will be in the interest of society, (4) adult convictions, and (5) fines were not fully paid.
Only certain federal cases are eligible to be expunged. Typically, you have to show that the conviction was wrongful or unconstitutional. Additionally, a person can apply for a pardon through the President. We do not handle federal cases.
No, we will go to court for you. If the court requests your presence and you are unable to attend, we will file a motion to excuse your appearance.
Typically, most cases take approximately ten to eleven months depending on the court and the availability of the records.
Our estimate is based on how long the average juvenile record sealing case takes in California; however, each case is different. Factors affecting the length of the process include: the circumstances surrounding the case, whether the District Attorney is agreeing or objecting, and the amount of time that has passed since the incident. We work on your case as fast as we can and assist the court and District Attorney in anything they need to get your case heard.
However, if you would like to speed up the process then we suggest that you go to the court and get your case documents. The court is reluctant to release juvenile court records to someone other than the juvenile and it takes longer to have them released to our office versus the juvenile in the case.
The courts work on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, the sooner you sign up, the sooner your case is heard and decided. If helpful, we will gladly write a letter to your employer or potential employer to let them know we have reopened the case and are in the process of having it sealed.
If, however,you would like to speed up the process, then we suggest that you go to the court and get your case documents. The court is reluctant to release juvenile court records to someone other than the juvenile and it takes longer to have them released to our office versus the juvenile in the case.
If the case is denied, we evaluate the reason for the denial and determine the best way to proceed. An option may be to refile with more evidence, and we will let you know if any evidence in particular would be helpful.
The judge will sign a court order stating that your record is sealed. The court clerk then mails that order to our law firm, and we will email or mail the order to you. Additionally, the criminal databases (for instance, the CA Department of Justice) will update your criminal history to reflect the sealing.
We are unable to offer a money-back guarantee and also offer our services at such a low price at the same time, because the process involves a substantial amount of preparation and sometimes several appearances in court by our attorneys.
After you complete your sentence for a juvenile offense, the court does not automatically seal the records. You have to petition the court to seal the records. However, once your record is sealed, it is as though the offense never occurred.
After your record has been sealed, the record can only be accessed or used in limited circumstances: (1) it can be used for impeachment purposes in a subsequent case (CA Evidence Code 788); (2) as a subsequent strike pursuant to the Three Strikes Law. (PC 667(d)(3)); or (3) if you are involved in any future lawsuit involving defamation. (Welfare and Institutions Code 781(a) and (b))
No. Once your juvenile record has been sealed, California law provides that the case shall be deemed never to have occurred. You can legally deny the existence of your juvenile record.
If you were not sent to the California Youth Authority, we can seal your juvenile record which means that all records held by the police department, the court, the district attorney, and the probation department will be sealed. However, this does not apply to federal agencies.
If the juvenile was sent to the California Youth Authority and was subsequently honorably discharged, we can petition to have the verdict of guilty set aside, thereby releasing the individual from the penalties and disabilities of the conviction. Setting aside the verdict pursuant to Section 1772 operates to restore the discharged offender's civil rights, releasing the offender “from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense or crime for which he or she was committed” as a matter of law.
If you have been convicted of minor offenses (including assault, dangerous driving, DUI, theft, shoplifting, unauthorized possession of firearms, possession of illegal substances, etc.) or indictable criminal offenses (including assault with a deadly weapon, manslaughter, etc.) you may be prohibited from entrance into Canada and further action will be required to find out whether you will be allowed entrance. The Canadian government has entered into an information sharing agreement with the United States, so the Canadian government will have whatever information the United States has on file. Therefore, the first thing you should do is clear your criminal record to the fullest extent possible before submitting to a background check. The benefit of a sealing is that it will show the Canadian government that the matter was resolved and the offense is deemed to have not occurred. This will improve the odds of being granted entry into Canada and help avoid being stuck at the border for a lengthy interrogation.
The Border Patrol has discretion in granting or denying Sentri passes; therefore the only thing we can say for sure is that investing in clearing your record before applying for a pass would be advantageous. A modest investment in getting a record sealing could be the difference between having your request accepted or denied. The sealing will show that you have resolved all matters with the court.
You never lose the right to vote unless you are currently in prison or on parole for a felony. You can view information about voting rights at http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_vr.htm
Criminal violations may have severe consequences for immigrants, even if the crime is expunged/vacated/sealed. Even minor offenses such as petty theft can make someone deportable or inadmissible, while more serious offenses such as burglary may not have the same consequences. Since each case is unique, getting a case-by-case analysis tailored to your specific facts is imperative. To find out if your criminal conviction will impact your immigration case it is imperative you contact a qualified immigration attorney. Our in-house immigration attorney is available to answer questions at 714-617-8395.
No. The three most common reasons for a person to lose their right to own or possess a firearm in CA are (1) being convicted of a felony, (2) being convicted of a violent misdemeanor, or (3) being convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.
(1) If you were convicted of a felony, sealing will not restore your right to own a firearm. However, reducing your felony to a misdemeanor is possible, which will qualify you to restore your right to own a firearm. (PC 17(b))
(2) If you were convicted of certain violent misdemeanors then the State of California takes away your right to possess a firearm for ten years. The ten year ban begins on the date of conviction. Sealing does not restore this right. (PC 12021(c))
(3) If you were convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence, there is a 10 year prohibition from the State of California for which sealing does not affect. (PC 1203.4 and 12021(c)) There is also a lifetime prohibition from the United States government (Lautenberg Amendment to the Violence Against Women Act), which prohibits firearm ownership of those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence as defined by the federal law. The federal definition is narrower than California's definition, so your domestic violence conviction in California might not trigger the federal law. Sealing in California does not lift the federal prohibition.
In California, you may serve on a jury if you: (1) are a United States citizen, (2) are at least eighteen years of age, (3) can understand English enough to understand and discuss the case at hand, (4) are a resident of the county for which you received the jury summons, (5) have not served on a jury in the last twelve months, (6) are not on a grand jury or on another trial jury currently, (7) are not under a conservatorship, and (8) have had your civil rights restored if you have been convicted of a felony or a malfeasance while holding public office.
No. Nothing should appear on a background check after your juvenile record has been sealed. Once a record is sealed, the record is treated as if no offense(s) was/were committed and you can answer as if nothing ever occurred. (Welfare and Institutions Code 781(a))
You can truthfully say you were not convicted to any question for employment. Since your record will be sealed, your juvenile conviction(s) will not appear on the background check.
Section 19 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (FDIA) allows banks and other financial institutions to bar prospective and current employees who have had “Breach of Trust” or "Dishonesty" convictions from jobs that they are otherwise qualified for even if they had the conviction expunged.
"Dishonesty" means directly or indirectly to cheat or defraud; to cheat or defraud for monetary gain or its equivalent; or wrongfully to take property belonging to another in violation of any criminal statute. Dishonesty includes acts involving want of integrity, lack of probity, or a disposition to distort, cheat, or act deceitfully or fraudulently, and may include crimes which federal, state or local laws define as dishonest. "Breach of trust" means a wrongful act, use, misappropriation or omission with respect to any property or fund which has been committed to a person in a fiduciary or official capacity, or the misuse of one's official or fiduciary position to engage in a wrongful act, use, misappropriation or omission. Whether a crime involves dishonesty or breach of trust will be determined from the statutory elements of the crime itself. All convictions for offenses concerning the illegal manufacture, sale, distribution of or trafficking in controlled substances are included. Other offenses can include but is not limited to the following: petty theft, grand theft, insufficient checks, burglary, possession of drugs for distribution or sales, embezzlement, fraud, fraud to obtain aid or benefits and money laundering.
If you believe you have a “breach of trust” or "dishonesty" conviction and were denied a position or were terminated from a financial institution because of that offense, there still is another way to obtain that job with a waiver from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). It is important to speak with an attorney about your specific circumstances to see if you would qualify for such a waiver from the FDIC.
If you want to join the US military, then your record becomes a matter of federal law, not California state law. All branches of the military will want to know about your juvenile offenses, even if they have been sealed. There is still a risk of being discharged from the military if you don’t tell the military, and they find out about your record later. Disclosing your juvenile case is always advisable, but inform them that your case was taken before a judge and he deemed it in the interest of justice to seal the record from public view.
For California, once your juvenile records have been sealed, your record is treated as though no offense(s) was/were ever committed and you can deny your record on any application, including an application to become a police officer. Furthermore, once your juvenile records are sealed, they are physically destroyed after a few years. Thus, it is highly unlikely that anyone would later learn about your sealed record. (Welfare and Institutions Code 781(a))
Once your juvenile case is sealed, your probation officer and the court are required to say that they have no record of your arrest.
The court forwards the order onto the Department of Justice (DOJ) to update their records. All agencies and background companies get their information from the court or the DOJ.
The court updates their records within 48 hours and the California Department of Justice has up to 30 days to update their records. However, the Department of Justice typically updates their records before the 30 days expire.
However, private background check providers are likely still reporting old information. To solve this problem, RecordGone.com has formed an exclusive partnership with the nation's largest criminal record database provider, to help clear criminal records from over 600 private criminal database companies. The Expedited Record Clearance Update service allows us to have the leading background check companies reflect changes to your criminal record in less than 14 days.
A sealing does not clear your DMV record; however, after a certain number of years, the DMV records fall off and disappear, unlike your criminal history that never disappears unless you have the records sealed.