Under current California law, any minor who is put on probation in juvenile court, as long as it is a qualifying offense, is eligible for the sealing of their juvenile record once they are off probation, and reach the age of 18 or if 5 years have passed since the termination of juvenile probation (whichever comes first). While the sealing of juvenile records is a relatively easy process, it does require the minor and the minor’s parents to do a bit of tracking down the right form, figuring out where to file the form, going to the right courthouse. In other words, it is a bit more of a bureaucratic hassle than it should be. Especially for a procedure that is a cornerstone of California’s juvenile justice system.
The good news is that this procedure just became a bit easier. Under a new law recently signed by Governor Brown, minors who are eligible for sealing must be provided with information as to the steps for record sealing and destruction at the time they are put on probation. Beginning in 2015, the new law also requires the Judicial Council of California to develop a standardized form for minors to use when applying for sealing and destruction of records.
While law is a positive step forward for making record sealing easier for families, it still does not address the larger issue that there are a wide category of offenses that are still not eligible for sealing. Remember: If a minor is over 14 years old and has a sustained petition for one of the offenses codified in Welfare and Institutions Code 707(b), the minor’s record cannot be sealed. Ever. These offenses include second degree robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. This is why, if you or a loved one are accused of one of these offenses, it is critical to contact a qualified juvenile defense lawyer to defend the case. The long term consequences are severe. One can only hope that at some point the legislature will do the right thing and expand the category of juvenile offenses that are eligible to be sealed and destroyed after successful completion of probation.
If you or a loved one are accused of a crime in a Los Angeles or California juvenile court or wish to seal and destroy a juvenile record, contact The Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg for a free consultation. Please call (323) 633-3423 or (310) 210-0744 or use this confidential email contact from.