Code Section

Welfare and Institutions Code - WIC

DIVISION 2. CHILDREN [100 - 1500]

  ( Division 2 enacted by Stats. 1937, Ch. 369. )
  

PART 1. DELINQUENTS AND WARDS OF THE JUVENILE COURT [100 - 1455]

  ( Part 1 enacted by Stats. 1937, Ch. 369. )
  

CHAPTER 2. Juvenile Court Law [200 - 987]

  ( Chapter 2 repealed and added by Stats. 1961, Ch. 1616. )
  

ARTICLE 20. Wards—Modification of Juvenile Court Judgments and Orders [775 - 787]
  ( Heading of Article 20 renumbered from Article 11 by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1068. )

  
781.  

(a) (1) (A) If a petition has been filed with a juvenile court to commence proceedings to adjudge a person a ward of the court, if a person is cited to appear before a probation officer or is taken before a probation officer pursuant to Section 626, or if a minor is taken before any officer of a law enforcement agency, the person or the county probation officer may, five years or more after the jurisdiction of the juvenile court has terminated as to the person, or, if a petition is not filed, five years or more after the person was cited to appear before a probation officer or was taken before a probation officer pursuant to Section 626 or was taken before any officer of a law enforcement agency, or, if, at any time after the person has reached 18 years of age, petition the court for sealing of the records, including records of arrest, relating to the person’s case, in the custody of the juvenile court and probation officer and any other agencies, including law enforcement agencies, entities, and public officials as the petitioner alleges, in his or her petition, to have custody of the records. The court shall notify the district attorney of the county and the county probation officer, if he or she is not the petitioner, and the district attorney or probation officer or any of their deputies or any other person having relevant evidence may testify at the hearing on the petition. If, after hearing, the court finds that since the termination of jurisdiction or action pursuant to Section 626, as the case may be, he or she has not been convicted of a felony or of any misdemeanor involving moral turpitude and that rehabilitation has been attained to the satisfaction of the court, it shall order all records, papers, and exhibits in the person’s case in the custody of the juvenile court sealed, including the juvenile court record, minute book entries, and entries on dockets, and any other records relating to the case in the custody of the other agencies, entities, and officials as are named in the order. Once the court has ordered the person’s records sealed, the proceedings in the case shall be deemed never to have occurred, and the person may properly reply accordingly to any inquiry about the events, the records of which are ordered sealed.

(B) The court shall send a copy of the order to each agency, entity, and official named in the order, directing the agency or entity to seal its records. Each agency, entity, and official shall seal the records in its custody as directed by the order, shall advise the court of its compliance, and thereupon shall seal the copy of the court’s order for sealing of records that the agency, entity, or official received.

(C) If a ward of the juvenile court is subject to the registration requirements set forth in Section 290 of the Penal Code, a court, in ordering the sealing of the juvenile records of the person, shall also provide in the order that the person is relieved from the registration requirement and for the destruction of all registration information in the custody of the Department of Justice and other agencies, entities, and officials.

(D) (i) A petition to seal the record or records relating to an offense listed in subdivision (b) of Section 707 that was committed after attaining 14 years of age and resulted in the adjudication of wardship by the juvenile court may only be filed or considered by the court pursuant to this section under the following circumstances:

(I) The person was committed to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Facilities, has attained 21 years of age, and has completed his or her period of probation supervision after release from the division.

(II) The person was not committed to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Facilities, has attained 18 years of age, and has completed any period of probation supervision related to that offense imposed by the court.

(ii) A record relating to an offense listed in subdivision (b) of Section 707 that was committed after attaining 14 years of age that has been sealed pursuant to this section may be accessed, inspected, or utilized in a subsequent proceeding against the person under any of the following circumstances:

(I) By the prosecuting attorney, as necessary, to make appropriate charging decisions or to initiate prosecution in a court of criminal jurisdiction for a subsequent felony offense, or by the prosecuting attorney or the court to determine the appropriate sentencing for a subsequent felony offense.

(II) By the prosecuting attorney, as necessary, to initiate a juvenile court proceeding to determine whether a minor shall be transferred from the juvenile court to a court of criminal jurisdiction pursuant to Section 707, and by the juvenile court to make that determination.

(III) By the prosecuting attorney, the probation department, or the juvenile court upon a subsequent finding by the juvenile court that the minor has committed a felony offense, for the purpose of determining an appropriate disposition of the case.

(IV) By the prosecuting attorney, or a court of criminal jurisdiction, for the purpose of proving a prior serious or violent felony conviction, and determining the appropriate sentence pursuant to Section 667 of the Penal Code.

(iii) A record relating to an offense listed in subdivision (b) of Section 707 that was committed after attaining 14 years of age that has been sealed pursuant to this section may be accessed, inspected, or utilized by the prosecuting attorney in order to meet a statutory or constitutional obligation to disclose favorable or exculpatory evidence to a defendant in a criminal case in which the prosecuting attorney has reason to believe that access to the record is necessary to meet the disclosure obligation. A request to access information in the sealed record for this purpose shall be submitted by the prosecuting attorney to the juvenile court, and the juvenile court shall approve the request if it determines that access to the record is necessary to enable the prosecuting attorney’s compliance with the disclosure obligation. If the juvenile court approves the prosecuting attorney’s request, the court shall state on the record appropriate limits on the access, inspection, and utilization of the sealed record information in order to protect the confidentiality of the person whose sealed record is accessed pursuant to this clause.

(iv) A sealed record that is accessed, inspected, or utilized pursuant to clause (ii) or (iii) shall be accessed, inspected, or utilized only for the purposes described therein, and the information contained in the sealed record shall otherwise remain confidential and shall not be further disseminated. The access, inspection, or utilization of a sealed record pursuant to clause (ii) or (iii) shall not be deemed an unsealing of the record and shall not require notice to any other entity.

(E) Subparagraph (D) does not apply in cases in which the offense listed in subdivision (b) of Section 707 that was committed after attaining 14 years of age was dismissed or reduced to a misdemeanor by the court. In those cases, the person may petition the court to have the record sealed, and the court may order the sealing of the record in the same manner and with the same effect as otherwise provided in this section for records that do not relate to an offense listed in subdivision (b) of Section 707 that was committed after the person had attained 14 years of age.

(F) Notwithstanding subparagraphs (D) and (E), a record relating to an offense listed in subdivision (b) of Section 707 that was committed after attaining 14 years of age for which the person is required to register pursuant to Section 290.008 of the Penal Code shall not be sealed.

(2) An unfulfilled order of restitution that has been converted to a civil judgment pursuant to Section 730.6 shall not be a bar to sealing a record pursuant to this subdivision.

(3) Outstanding restitution fines and court-ordered fees shall not be considered when assessing whether a petitioner’s rehabilitation has been attained to the satisfaction of the court and shall not be a bar to sealing a record pursuant to this subdivision.

(4) The person who is the subject of records sealed pursuant to this section may petition the superior court to permit inspection of the records by persons named in the petition, and the superior court may order the inspection of the records. Except as provided in subdivision (b), the records shall not be open to inspection.

(b) In any action or proceeding based upon defamation, a court, upon a showing of good cause, may order any records sealed under this section to be opened and admitted into evidence. The records shall be confidential and shall be available for inspection only by the court, jury, parties, counsel for the parties, and any other person who is authorized by the court to inspect them. Upon the judgment in the action or proceeding becoming final, the court shall order the records sealed.

(c) (1) Subdivision (a) does not apply to Department of Motor Vehicles records of any convictions for offenses under the Vehicle Code or any local ordinance relating to the operation, stopping and standing, or parking of a vehicle where the record of any such conviction would be a public record under Section 1808 of the Vehicle Code. However, if a court orders a case record containing any such conviction to be sealed under this section, and if the Department of Motor Vehicles maintains a public record of such a conviction, the court shall notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of the sealing and the department shall advise the court of its receipt of the notice.

(2) Notwithstanding any other law, subsequent to the notification, the Department of Motor Vehicles shall allow access to its record of convictions only to the subject of the record and to insurers which have been granted requestor code numbers by the department. Any insurer to which a record of conviction is disclosed, when the conviction record has otherwise been sealed under this section, shall be given notice of the sealing when the record is disclosed to the insurer. The insurer may use the information contained in the record for purposes of determining eligibility for insurance and insurance rates for the subject of the record, and the information shall not be used for any other purpose nor shall it be disclosed by an insurer to any person or party not having access to the record.

(3) This subdivision does not prevent the sealing of any record which is maintained by any agency or party other than the Department of Motor Vehicles.

(4) This subdivision does not affect the procedures or authority of the Department of Motor Vehicles for purging department records.

(d) Unless for good cause the court determines that the juvenile court record shall be retained, the court shall order the destruction of a person’s juvenile court records that are sealed pursuant to this section as follows: five years after the record was ordered sealed, if the person who is the subject of the record was alleged or adjudged to be a person described by Section 601; or when the person who is the subject of the record reaches 38 years of age if the person was alleged or adjudged to be a person described by Section 602, except that if the subject of the record was found to be a person described in Section 602 because of the commission of an offense listed in subdivision (b) of Section 707 when he or she was 14 years of age or older, the record shall not be destroyed. Any other agency in possession of sealed records may destroy its records five years after the record was ordered sealed.

(e) The court may access a file that has been sealed pursuant to this section for the limited purpose of verifying the prior jurisdictional status of a ward who is petitioning the court to resume its jurisdiction pursuant to subdivision (e) of Section 388. This access shall not be deemed an unsealing of the record and shall not require notice to any other entity.

(f) This section shall not permit the sealing of a person’s juvenile court records for an offense where the person is convicted of that offense in a criminal court pursuant to the provisions of Section 707.1. This subdivision is declaratory of existing law.

(g) (1) This section does not prohibit a court from enforcing a civil judgment for an unfulfilled order of restitution obtained pursuant to Section 730.6. A minor is not relieved from the obligation to pay victim restitution, restitution fines, and court-ordered fines and fees because the minor’s records are sealed.

(2) A victim or a local collection program may continue to enforce victim restitution orders, restitution fines, and court-ordered fines and fees after a record is sealed. The juvenile court shall have access to any records sealed pursuant to this section for the limited purposes of enforcing a civil judgment or restitution order.

(h) (1) On and after January 1, 2015, each court and probation department shall ensure that information regarding the eligibility for and the procedures to request the sealing and destruction of records pursuant to this section shall be provided to each person who is either of the following:

(A) A person for whom a petition has been filed on or after January 1, 2015, to adjudge the person a ward of the juvenile court.

(B) A person who is brought before a probation officer pursuant to Section 626.

(2) The Judicial Council shall, on or before January 1, 2015, develop informational materials for purposes of paragraph (1) and shall develop a form to petition the court for the sealing and destruction of records pursuant to this section. The informational materials and the form shall be provided to each person described in paragraph (1) when jurisdiction is terminated or when the case is dismissed.

(Amended by Stats. 2017, Ch. 679, Sec. 1. (SB 312) Effective January 1, 2018. Note: This section was amended on March 7, 2000, by initiative Prop. 21.)