Practically everyone does something they later regret in life when they are young. That’s because teens don’t have the necessary life experience to make the right choices when confronted with difficult decisions. This is why the juvenile court system is designed to reform more than it is to punish and this is also why it is such a good idea for those who were convicted of a crime before they turned 18 to have their record sealed when they turn 18. If you or your child need help sealing a juvenile criminal record, a criminal defense attorney like Peter M. Liss can help.
Some Records are Automatically Sealed
If you or your child was convicted of a crime as a minor, and the conviction took place after January 1, 2015, your record may automatically be sealed. This will only occur if you were sentenced to probation, successfully finished the probation and you were not convicted of a violent offense like murder, rape, kidnapping, arson or weapons crimes, or some serious drug offenses such as manufacturing. If you meet the qualifications for automatic record sealing, you do not need to do anything further and your case will automatically be dismissed.
When You Need A Lawyer
If, on the other hand, you were convicted of a violent or other serious offense, you did not complete all the terms of your probation, you were not sentenced to probation, or if you were convicted before 2015, you will need to take action to have your record sealed. This is when you should contact an attorney to get more information on the expungement process.
Because the charges are not automatically dismissed in these cases, your criminal record will be available publicly until you have your record sealed. Many of these people mistakenly believe that sealing juvenile records in California is an automatic process that occurs as soon as someone turns 18, but in these cases you need to actually act to have the records expunged. In fact, in many cases involving violent or other serious offenses, the record cannot actually be sealed until the offender has turned 21. A San Diego expungement attorney can help answer any questions about the complicated expungement process and help you file the proper legal paperwork to seal you juvenile record.
Benefits to Sealing Juvenile Records in California
Having your juvenile record expunged completely clears your record so when you apply for a job or housing and are asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you can truthfully answer “no.” The crime will not show up on background checks and will prevent your juvenile criminal history from being used against you. After sealing juvenile records in California, the sealed records can only be opened in rare, specific situations and eventually, they will even be physically destroyed so there will be literally no record of your criminal background.
It is worth knowing that in cases where the case was not automatically sealed because the crime was violent or serious, the record will never be permanently destroyed and may be opened by the prosecution, court or probation agency if you are accused of another felony in the future.
It’s worth knowing that the sealing of records also includes arrest reports. Even if a child was not made a ward of the court or was diverted from prosecution, the records of those events may be sealed.
Not All Juvenile Crimes are Eligible for Sealing in California
It is important to recognize that if there have been convictions of crimes involving moral turpitude (such as fraud, burglary, sex crimes, etc.) after the end of the juvenile’s probation, expungement is not allowed. If a minor was charged in court as an adult, he cannot have his record sealed entirely, but will need to go through the process of expungement that adult offenders must go through instead.
Additionally, most violent crimes and many sex offenses are not eligible for sealing. If a minor has been ordered to register as a sex offender, sealing these juvenile records in California will eliminate the need to continue registering, assuming the crime was eligible to be sealed. If you are interested in having your San Diego County juvenile record sealed, please call Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation to get more information on the expungement process and to discuss your case.
Image by creativesignature