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)).
If you don't know what is on your record, we will be glad to work with you to get a copy of your criminal record and review what can be done to clear it up. We charge a small researching fee, which we then apply to the cost of any service that you hire us to perform.
Juvenile record sealings must be filed and completed separately for each individual case. We charge per case (regardless of the number of counts in each case). If you have multiple cases that are eligible, we do offer discounts if you sign up for more than one of our services.
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.
A juvenile record sealing can be denied for the following reasons: (1) the judge does not believe the record sealing will be in the interest of society, (2) an inaccuracy in the court file, (3) an inaccuracy in the application, (4) adult convictions, and (5) fines were not fully paid.
The statute and case law are not very clear on the issue. Therefore, it is a bit unclear. Expungement law states the person shall “be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which or she has been convicted” except as provided by the enumerated exceptions. Juvenile record sealing is not listed as one of the exceptions and is not mentioned in any of the case law so the argument could be made that it cannot be used against you.
Typically, no. If a hearing is held, we will go to court for you. If the judge does specifically request your presence and you are unable to attend, we will file a motion requesting the court excuse your appearance.
The average juvenile record sealing case takes approximately ten to eleven months depending on the court and the availability of the records.
Each case is different, and 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.
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 filed and decided. If helpful, we would be happy to write a letter to your employer or potential employer to let them know we are in the process of having the case 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.
We will evaluate the reason for the denial and determine what the next step is. An option may be to refile with additional supporting evidence, and we will let you know if any evidence in particular would be helpful.
The judge will sign a court order providing that your record is sealed. The court will then mail that order to our office, and we will email or mail the order to you. The CA Department of Justice will also be notified and will update your criminal history to reflect the sealing.
We are unable to offer a money-back guarantee for a juvenile record sealing and also offer the service 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.
To find out if your criminal record will impact your immigration case it is imperative you contact a qualified immigration attorney. We have an in-house immigration attorney that available to answer your 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.
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.
If you believe that you have a “breach of trust” or "dishonesty" conviction and you were denied a position or were terminated from a financial institution because of that offense, there is another way to obtain that job. You can do so 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 sends the order to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to update their records. Other agencies and background companies get their information from the court or the DOJ.
The court will update their own records within 48 hours of the case being granted, 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.
A juvenile record sealing does not clear up your DMV record; however, after a set number of years, the DMV records fall off and disappear, as opposed to your criminal history that never disappears unless you have the records sealed.