Seal Juvenile Record by Darren Chaker

Seal Juvenile Record by Darren Chaker

Darren Chaker writes on laws to seal record in California. Juvenile Record Sealing in California provides significant advantages. California record sealing allows adult and juvenile records to be sealed then destroyed.  Laws to seal a juvenile in California are strict.  Welfare & Institutions Code § 827 (b) guarantees the confidentiality of Juvenile Court records. The strong state interest in the confidentiality of juvenile proceedings and records has long been recognized. In re Keisha T., 38 Cal App.4th 220, 231, 44 Cal.Rptr.2d 822 (1995). Probably every state in the Union has similar provisions. See Davis v. Alaska, 415 U.S. 308, 311, 94 S.Ct. 1105, 39 L.Ed.2d 347 (1974) (quoting Alaska’s provisions); Federal Rule of Evidence 609(d).

Darren Chaker record sealing

Article by Darren Chaker on record sealing and destruction.

The purpose of preserving the confidentiality of juvenile records can be served by permitting inspection by a third party only after an initial in camera inspection by the Juvenile Court. Navajo Express v. Superior Court, 186 Cal.App.3d 981, 985 (1986). In determining whether to authorize the inspection or release of Juvenile Court records, the Juvenile Court must balance the interests of the child and other parties to the Juvenile Court proceedings, the interests of the petitioner, and the interests of the public. The court may permit disclosure of the records only insofar as is necessary, and only if there is a reasonable likelihood the records will disclose information or evidence of substantial relevance to the pending litigation. Cal. Rule of Court 1423(b). One purpose for an in camera inspection is to avoid “fishing expeditions.” Navajo Express, 186 Cal.App.3d at 986.

Darren Chaker also finds that police, prosecutors, and court personnel have the right to Juvenile Court records when “actively participating in criminal or juvenile proceedings involving the minor.” In re Keisha T, supra, 38 Cal App.4th at 232. Only attorneys for police “who are actively participating in criminal or juvenile proceedings involving the minor” are entitled to juvenile court records. Welf. & Inst. Code § 837(a)(1)(E). Another benefit is the Juvenile Court may limit the use of any records it does order disclosed. Cal. R. Ct. 1423(b).

One substantial benefit of confidentiality is that juvenile records may eventually be sealed. This means a person may obtain an order which seals his/her Juvenile Court records “even from inspection by juvenile court personnel, and which requires the destruction of all records pertaining to the case in the custody of ‘any other agencies, including law enforcement agencies, and public officials …..” United States v. County of Los Angeles, 635 F.Supp. 588, 591 (C.D.Cal. 1986), quoting Cal. Welfare & Institutions Code § 781. “[O]nce the juvenile records in a matter are ordered sealed, ‘the proceedings in the case shall be deemed never to have occurred, and the person may properly reply accordingly to any inquiry about the events, the records of which are ordered sealed.”’ Parmett v. Superior Court, 212 Cal.App.3d 1261, 1265,262 Cal.Rptr. 387 (1989). “[I]fan agency receives an inquiry regarding a record which has been sealed, the proper response is ‘[w]e have no record on the named individual,’ even though the record may physically still exist.” Id., at 1266, quoting 40 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 50 (1962). “[E]ven a court is barred from relying on its own knowledge that certain proceedings took place after there has been a sealing.” Id.

How to seal and destroy a California juvenile record is clear, says Darren Chaker. When a court issues an order to seal, agencies must seal juvenile court records in their possession relating to a juvenile status offense or crime, the court must specify the appropriate date for the destruction of the sealed records. (Welf.C. 781(a).) When directing other agencies to seal juvenile court records in their possession relating to dependency, the court must direct the agencies to destroy the sealed records 5 years after sealing. (Welf.C. 389(a).)

Section 781, subdivision (d) provides, “Unless for good cause the court determines that the juvenile court record shall be retained, the court shall order the destruction of a person’s juvenile court records that are sealed pursuant to this section as follows: … when the person who is the subject of the record reaches the age of 38 if the person was alleged or adjudged to be a person described by Section 602, except that if the subject of the record was found to be a person described in Section 602 because of the commission of an offense listed in subdivision (b), of Section 707, when he or she was 14 years of age or older, the record shall not be destroyed.” On remand, the court should determine whether to destroy or retain appellant’s sealed juvenile records in accordance with section 781, subdivision (d).”

California Welfare & Institutions Code § 827 (b) guarantees the confidentiality of Juvenile Court records. The strong state interest in the confidentiality of juvenile proceedings and records has long been recognized. In re Keisha T., 38 Cal App.4th 220, 231, 44 Cal.Rptr.2d 822 (1995). Probably every state in the Union has similar provisions. See Davis v. Alaska, 415 U.S. 308, 311, 94 S.Ct. 1105, 39 L.Ed.2d 347 (1974) (quoting Alaska’s provisions); Federal Rule of Evidence 609(d).

Of course, consult an attorney and do not take anything on this site as legal advice. The Orange County Public Defender offers great resources for people wanting to seal and expunge records through its New Leaf Program.

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