Wednesday, February 11, 2015

W & I 786: New Sealing of Records Law in 2015

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. No longer do they 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, they do not have to pay a sealing fee to the court. The newly enacted legislation is found in the California Welfare and Institutions (W & I ) Code section 786.


  1. The exception to the law is for minors, fourteen years of age or older, who had admitted to Welfare and Institution Code section 707(b) offenses. The new law would not apply to them (nor does it apply under the regular Sealing of Records standards). 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 found to be true, 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, are 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.
  2. 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 Welfare and Institutions 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 781, the court required the juvenile to pay a sealing fee. That can be waived if there is proof of inability to pay. 


If a juvenile did admit to a 707(b) offense in Juvenile Court and they were fourteen years of age or older at the time of the offense, there is still some hope to petition to get their record sealed. They could file a petition pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 782 to request of the court to dismiss their case in the interest of justice. If the court does dismiss the 707(b) petition, the juvenile can petition to seal their record pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 781.

We highly recommend all juveniles with juvenile records get their records sealed. Perhaps the police detained your minor and investigated a case concerning your minor but no charges were filed in Juvenile Court. Perhaps the case was handled informally by probation and no charges were filed in Juvenile Court. Your minor still has a juvenile record with the police agency that investigated the case and the local juvenile probation department. Even though they were never charged in court, they need to get their record sealed with all agencies that had any connection with their matter.

The difference in the sealing laws for minors before and after 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 differences. Furthermore, at the end of your child’s probationary period (post 2015), your attorney should request to have the child’s record sealed and destroyed under 781. A knowledgeable Juvenile Attorney will know to do that.

If your child has been charged with a crime, or has juvenile records they need sealed, please contact the Law Office of Katie Walsh at (714) 619-9355.

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