(Welfare & Institutions Code § 781)
PLEASE READ THIS INFORMATION BEFORE SUBMITTING YOUR APPLICATION
Juvenile Record Seal Instructions
Application to Petition to Seal Juvenile Record
The following are the minimum eligibility requirements for obtaining a record seal:
- Be at least 18 years of age or be off of probation for five years;
- Not have a sustained juvenile offense at age 14 or older for a serious felony listed in Welfare and Institutions Code 707(b);
- Not have an Adult Court felony conviction; and
- Not have an Adult Court misdemeanor conviction involving moral turpitude.
Who May Petition for a Record Seal?
You may personally petition the Court to seal your records or request the Probation Department petition the Court on your behalf.
Can a request for a Record Seal be denied?
Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee the Court will grant a petition to seal records. A judge will not seal juvenile records unless he/she is satisfied that rehabilitation of the minor has been attained. Though many petitions to seal juvenile records are granted, some reasons a judge will deny a petition include:
- You were committed to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Facilities (formerly CYA) and have been off parole less than five (5) years;
- You were made a ward of the Court (for a felony or misdemeanor) and have been off probation for less than two (2) years;
- You completed either six months probation (WIC § 725(a)) or Informal Supervision (WIC § 654 or 654.2) less than one (1) year ago; or
- All charges against you were either not filed or dismissed less than one (1) year ago.
What Other Factors Will the Court Consider?
The judge will take into account any of the following circumstances in deciding whether you have sufficiently attained rehabilitation to justify sealing your records:
- Is there any civil lawsuit pending against you related to the facts that were involved in your juvenile case?
- Have you had any recent arrests or citations, including traffic matters?
- Are you currently on any type of formal or informal probation or parole?
- Do you still owe any restitution as a result of juvenile or adult court orders?
- Do you have any court-ordered fines that have not been fully paid?
Is There a Filing Fee?
A fee of $120.00 is due at the time of filing the petition or submitting the application with the Court for all petitioners 26 years and older; the filing fee is waived for all subjects under 26 years of age. If for any reason your petition is not granted or your application is rejected, the fees are not refundable. Make Checks Payable to: Superior Court of California.
What if You Cannot Afford to Pay the Filing Fee?
- You can obtain an Application for Waiver of Court Fees and Costs at the Juvenile Courthouse Reception.
- After completing the waiver application, submit it to the Juvenile Court in person or by mail. (Faxed and E-mailed applications are not accepted).
- The Court will determine whether your circumstances justify waiving the filing fee.
- If the filing fee is waived by the Court and your petition application is accepted, it will be forwarded to the Probation Department Record Seal Officer. The officer will conduct a background investigation.
- If the filing fee is not waived by the Court, your petition will be rejected, and you will be provided with a rejection notice. No further action will be taken on your application unless you contact the department for additional assistance. Probation retains all applications, including those rejected, for record-keeping purposes. If you are able to pay the filing fee at a later time, you may re-apply by completing and submitting a new petition application to Juvenile Court.
What is the Application and Petition Filing Process?
Step 1: You must obtain and complete an Application to Petition to Seal Juvenile Records. The application is also available at the Juvenile Courthouse Reception located at 4100 Branch Center Road, Sacramento, CA 95827.
Step 2: Submit your application to the Juvenile Court receptionist, in-person or by regular mail (Faxed and E-mailed applications are not accepted). You must pay the filing fee at the time you submit your application to the Court.
Step 3: After you pay the filing fee, your application will be forwarded to the Probation Department Record Seal Officer. The officer will conduct a background investigation. Either you, or the probation officer on your behalf, can file the petition with the court. Please provide a list of all the law enforcement agencies that have any of your records that may be sealed.
Step 4: Once the petition is filed, the Court Clerk will set a date for a court hearing; you may attend the court hearing.
Step 5: At the court hearing on the Petition, the Probation Department’s Record Seal Officer will make a recommendation to the judge whether the petition should be granted or denied.
What Does the Record Seal Officer Do?
The Record Seal Officer:
- conducts a background investigation to confirm your eligibility to have your record sealed in compliance with the law;
- decides whether he/she believes you are a suitable or unsuitable candidate for a record seal based on the department's policy;
- based on his/her findings, mails you a rejection or acceptance letter informing you of the resulting factors of the decision made, including when and if you are eligible to reapply (if your application was rejected) or information relative to the petition being prepared and a court date for the judge to review the petition; and
- makes a recommendation to the judge regarding your suitability for having your record sealed as a person who has satisfactorily attained rehabilitation.
What Happens When Your Record Is Sealed?
If the Court orders your juvenile record sealed, by law, the juvenile proceedings are deemed to have never occurred and you can lawfully say to anyone that you have no juvenile record. The Court will send a copy of the order to each agency and official who has any of your records, directing them to seal and destroy their records. Vehicle Code charges cannot be sealed from access by the Department of Motor Vehicles, however; the DMV must grant access to insurance companies to look at your sealed driving records for the purpose of determining your eligibility for automobile insurance and the rates they will charge you if they issue an insurance policy.
Generally, once your records are sealed, they cannot be unsealed unless you request it. Unsealing records for any purpose requires a court hearing and order except if you ever file a lawsuit against someone for defamation of character. In such cases, all parties named in the suit, the judge, and the jury may be allowed to look at your sealed records.