Effective January 1, 2015, California Senate Bill 1038 enacted a new law allowing most minors in Juvenile Court who have satisfactorily completed probation, (probation without wardship or informal handling), and who appear before the Juvenile Court after January 1, 2015, for their termination hearing to have their records sealed immediately by the court.
The minor does not now have to wait until they are 18 or older or, if under 18, five years must have passed since their last arrest or when they were last on probation. Further, the minor does not have to pay a sealing fee to the court.
Pursuant to W&I Code section 786 “all records pertaining to the dismissed petition are to be destroyed on the dates set forth in this petition, and the arrest is deemed never to have occurred except that the prosecuting attorney, probation officer, and court may access these records for the specific purposes stated in W&I Code section 786.”
Effective January 1, 2016, Assembly Bill 666 was passed which extends W&I Code section 786 for auto-sealing of law enforcement records as well!
How Assembly Bill (AB) 666 addresses the loop holes in W&I Code section 786:
- It permits the court to seal prior petitions that have been sustained against the youth, with the court’s discretion.
- It extends the court’s sealing order to cover records of law enforcement and probation agencies and the Department of Justice.
- It provides a definition of “satisfactory completion” of probation, based on California case and statutory law.
- It requires the Judicial Council of California to adopt court rules and forms to ensure the uniform application of juvenile “auto-sealing” throughout the state.
- It helps youth with outstanding restitution orders gain access to the jobs they need to make good on restitution payments, by authorizing auto-sealing of their records if their restitution order can be enforced as a civil judgment after sealing (already provided by law) and if they otherwise meet the criteria for sealing.
- It ensures that the new auto-sealing law won’t disrupt agency data collection and grant reporting requirements, by allowing agency access to sealed records for data collection purposes and for court-approved research studies, so long as no personally identifying information on the juvenile is disseminated.
- It allows prosecutors, courts, probation and counsel to access previously sealed records for narrowly defined uses, in order to determine a disposition on a new “come-back” felony adjudication or to determine the minor’s fitness to remain in the juvenile justice system if he or she comes back on a serious offense.
Exceptions to W&I Code section 786:
The exception to the law is for minors, fourteen years of age or older, who had admitted to W&I Code section 707(b) offenses. The new law would not apply to them. Section 707 (b) lists thirty types of offenses that are covered by this section.
In general, it refers to the most serious type of offenses such as murder, arson, robbery, sex offenses where force is established to have occurred, and assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury as a felony.
Offenses such as first degree burglary, burglary of a residence, is not a 707(b) offense. If there are any questions whether the minor’s offense is a 707(b) offense, the parent/juvenile should consult with an attorney knowledgeable in juvenile law.
We encourage you to make an appointment with one of our very experienced and highly skilled North Bay California criminal defense attorneys at FIUMARA & MILLIGAN LAW, PC.
The new law does not apply to juveniles who had their cases terminated for satisfactory completion of probation, probation without wardship, or informal handling prior to January 1, 2015. At this time, those juveniles must comply with W&I Code section 781.
The juvenile must wait until they are 18 or older or, if under 18, five years must have passed since their last arrest or when they were last on probation. Further, under W&I Code 781, the court requires the juvenile to pay a sealing fee. That can be waived if there is proof of inability to pay.
The difference in the sealing laws for minors pre and post January 1, 2015, could change and the parent/juvenile should check later in the year with a knowledgeable attorney to see if the courts or legislature have corrected the discrepancies and plugged all the loop holes.
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