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Sealing Juvenile Records

While people of any age can have their criminal records sealed for a variety of reasons, sealing a juvenile record is the most common. It is often felt that younger, less experienced people are more likely to make mistakes, and those mistakes should not necessarily follow that young person for the rest of his or her life, reducing his opportunities to become a productive member of society. Sealing juvenile records provides wayward juveniles with the opportunity to take advantage of a second chance.

Why Seal Juvenile Records?

Every juvenile with a criminal record should take the opportunity to seal that record if possible. Criminal records can follow someone everywhere in life. It can make it harder to get a job, to get into school or to get a loan. Someone with a troubled past who is trying to make a new start doesn't need any more obstacles than he or she already has. A sealed record takes away many of the barriers that a criminal record puts up.

What Is a Sealed Juvenile Record?

If you have your juvenile record sealed, it is almost as if the offense never happened. No one can access any record of your criminal proceedings without a court order, and most entities who check on your background will not be able to find out about your past criminal record. You are even legally entitled to answer no to anyone requesting information about prior criminal activity if that activity is part of a sealed record.

Who Can Have Their Juvenile Records Sealed?

You can apply to have your juvenile records sealed once you reach the age of 18. However, if five years or more have passed since your last arrest or completion of probation, you can petition to have your juvenile records sealed even if you have not yet reached the age of 18. If you have been convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors (typically drug or sex offenses or fraud) since the offense for which you are trying to have your record sealed, you will not be able to apply for a sealed record. You cannot seal your juvenile record if there is an open civil action related to the events on your juvenile record. Traffic and parking violations cannot be sealed.

How Can One Apply to Have Their Juvenile Records Sealed?

The procedure for sealing one's juvenile record can be different in each state. can help you sort it out. provides a fee eligibility check to help you determine if your records can be sealed, and then provides you with the paperwork you need to fill out to make it happen, along with detailed instructions about the procedure. Send the forms to the agency indicated and wait. Eventually, there will be a court hearing to determine whether or not your records should be sealed. You probably will then be called to appear to show that you have been rehabilitated. If the judge determines that sealing the record is indicated, he will order it, and your record will be sealed.

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