(US criminal law) If you have any convictions on your record that you received as a juvenile, you may be able to wipe them away by seeking to seal, or expunge, those convictions. Sealing juvenile court records is great in that it will allow you to tell such people as landlords, employers or licensing agencies that you were never arrested or convicted as a juvenile.
Who is Eligible for Record Sealing?
There are many things that determine who is eligible for record sealing, and it can vary from one state to another. However, in most states, you must be at least 18 before you can request your records to be sealed. Typically, you will also need to wait at least five years after the date of your offense or court proceedings before making your request.
There are some states that place stipulations on the types of offenses that you can have sealed from your juvenile record. Additionally, most states do not allow you to expunge serious offenses. Finally, if you have received any arrests or convictions as an adult, your will not be eligible to seal any juvenile court records.
How to Make Your Request
There are a few states that automatically seal certain types of juvenile records once you reach a certain age. However, most jurisdictions will not seal records unless you file a request with the courts. You, as the petitioner, will need to file a request with the clerk of juvenile court in the county where you committed the offense.
Your request, also known as a petition, will ask the courts to seal your juvenile record. Typically, petitions come on pre-printed forms with helpful instructions. In most jurisdictions, you will also need to pay a fee at the time that you make your request.
Benefits of Sealing Juvenile Records
If the courts approve your request and seal your juvenile records, it will be as if your juvenile court proceedings never happened. In most states, what this means for you is that you can legally say that you do not have juvenile criminal history. Furthermore, if an employer or landlord conducts a background check on you, your juvenile court history will not show up.
It is essential to note however, that there are some circumstances where your expunged record may still be accessible. This can happen if you apply for a law enforcement position or if you are convicted of a crime at a later date. Insurance companies may also be able to access your record if you had vehicle-related offenses.
As you can see though, there are many more advantages than disadvantages of sealing juvenile court records. Not only will it be easier for you to secure a home, but it will be much easier for you to obtain employment as well. Be sure to follow all directions carefully, and in no time at all, you can start your life out fresh.
Henry uses his years of criminal trial experience to protect individuals of all state and federal crimes. He knows what is at stake during a criminal trial and fully believes that everybody deserves a second chance. His law firm, Law Office of Henry Nguyen, P.C. has successfully expunged dozens of juvenile records.