California Juvenile Court System
If your minor child is charged with a crime in California then he or she would be arraigned (administered) in the California juvenile court system. Any criminal charge that is pled guilty to by your minor child may, in some circumstances, be used to bolster any civil claim an injured party may have against your minor child; this means, if you are named in any civil lawsuit as the parent, this additional charge may be used to prove the damages caused by your minor child. The California juvenile court system is administered in private and only interested parties may attend; this means the California juvenile court is not open to the public.
Sealed Juvenile Records in California
If your minor child is charged with a crime (juvenile offense), and your minor child pleads to or is found guilty of the crime, the California juvenile court does not automatically seal the records. You have to petition the court to seal the records and, once they are sealed, it is as though the charge never existed. Remember, not all juvenile records can be sealed. Nothing will appear on any future background check of your minor child once the records have been sealed because, legally, it is treated as if it never happened, and your child can answer as if it never occurred. In fact, it can never be reopened after being sealed, unless your minor child is involved in any future lawsuit involving defamation, or if it is needed for impeachment purposes on a subsequent case or any matter related to the Three Strikes Law. The records, after a few years, are actually physically destroyed.
California law treats the sealed records as if they (the juvenile offenses) never happened. However, this does not apply to federal agencies. If, for example, the military wants to know, then it becomes a matter of federal law, not just California state law. For the record, all branches of the military want to know about any past juvenile offenses. Thus, you do run the risk of a dishonorable discharge if the military finds out about past juvenile offenses not previously disclosed. It is always advisable to disclose that you had a past juvenile conviction, and explain that a judge deemed it in the interest of justice and society that an “expunge” (or “seal order”) ensue to keep the conviction from public view.
Mark C. Blane is a San Diego Child Injury/Accident Attorney and the managing lawyer of the Law Offices of Mark C. Blane, a San Diego, California Personal Injury Law Office dedicated to representing families of minor children injured due to the negligence of others. If you or a loved one, who is a minor child, has been injured or killed in a child accident in San Diego, please order your free copy of Mr. Blane's book, The 10 Secrets You Need To Know About Your Injury Case, BEFORE You Call A Lawyer. It is full of helpful information that will help you protect your legal rights and it normally sells for $16.95. However, it is free to all California residents, or those injured in a California accident. Also, you can check out Mr. Blane's book on California child injuries called Justice for the Injured Child available for sale; this book has become a California parent's legal survival guide to their child's California accident case.