Moving on From Your Early Mistakes
Making a mistake in your youth shouldn't reflect on your character as an adult. But a juvenile record can follow you into adulthood. Courts, law enforcement, employers, landlords, and other agencies may have access to your juvenile records. While some records of juvenile offenses are automatically sealed, many others are not. And, contrary to popular belief, all adjudications and convictions you obtained before turning 18 are not erased from your record on your 18th birthday. In fact, few offenses are automatically erased, and you may not be eligible to remove some serious offenses from your record even after you turn 18. Let's take a look at those serious offenses and how they can affect your record.
Sealing Your Record
In many cases, you may petition the court to seal your juvenile record. You are eligible to petition the court once you turn 18 or if it has been five years since your case was closed and your probation has ended or the judge has decided you are rehabilitated. However, you are not eligible to petition the court to seal your record if you committed a serious offense when you were 14 years or older.
Examples of serious offenses include:
- Attempted murder
- Rape with force, violence, or threat of great bodily harm
- Sodomy by force, violence, duress, menace, or threat of great bodily harm
- Oral copulation by force, violence, duress, menace, or threat of great bodily harm
- Lewd or lascivious acts
- Kidnapping for ransom, for purposes of robbery, or with great bodily harm
- Assault with a firearm or destructive device
- Assault by means of force likely to cause great bodily injury
- Discharge of a firearm in an inhabited or occupied building
Also, you cannot seal your record if you were charged by the criminal court (separate from the juvenile court) or
convicted as an adult of a crime of moral turpitude (e.g. sex crimes, murder, some drug offenses etc.)
If you are not eligible to seal your juvenile record, you might still be eligible to clean your record in other ways. First, let's go over the difference between sealing your record and cleaning your record through the dismissal process.
Sealing your record essentially destroys the record. Once sealed, it's as if the record never existed. In most cases, you can truthfully say you do not have a criminal record, with very few exceptions. If you want to enlist in the military or need federal security clearance, you may still have to disclose the information on your juvenile record.
Cleaning your adult criminal record through the process of dismissal does not erase the record. The case record will be opened, the guilty plea or verdict will be changed to not guilty, and the case will be closed. The conviction itself is removed, but the case record still exists. In California, however, you are not required to disclose an arrest that did not end in a conviction on most job applications. After dismissal, you can truthfully answer no when asked if you've been convicted of a crime. You may still need to disclose the conviction to governmental employers, though, and not all convictions can be dismissed. Crimes involving sexual assault, sex with a minor, pornography of a minor, certain crimes against nature, or select violent crimes cannot be dismissed from your record at any point.
Having a juvenile record doesn't have to hold you back. You may be able to seal or clean your record, but you will need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Not every petition is granted, and you must meet all the qualifications. An attorney can explain your options for cleaning your record and make sure you complete all the steps so your petition will be granted. Cleaning your record can improve your chances of getting an apartment, a job, or even a loan. It's worth the time and effort to complete the process.
If you are in the Visalia, Hanford or Tulare area and want to clean your record, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens is here to help you. California criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens can help you clean your record so you can move on with your life. Attorney Martens has handled thousands of cases over a span of ten years of criminal defense practice and can fight hard for your rights. Contact attorney Christopher Martens for experienced criminal defense counsel today. Contact our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.