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CJCJ, with generous support from the Zellerbach Family Foundation, is thrilled to announce the launch of Seal It, a new resource to help people seal their juvenile records. Seal It includes a database of record-sealing procedures for California’s 58 counties, and illustrates the widespread disparity in county record-sealing practices.

Juvenile records, including records of arrests and court rulings, can interfere with finding a job, getting into college, becoming a citizen, and getting a driver’s license, regardless of how law-abiding a person’s adulthood. But while records are not automatically sealed when people turn 18 — despite the common misperception that they are — most people can petition to have their records sealed and eventually destroyed.

But the record-sealing process is frustrating, confusing, and burdensome, with each of the state’s 58 counties requiring different sets of obscure procedures. Seal It helps people get through the process, answering frequently asked questions about sealing juvenile records, including eligibility requirements and the legal implications of sealing a record, and providing a database of county-specific information, including:

  • Downloadable applications, petition forms, and sample request letters;Contact information for probation departments, juvenile court offices, and legal services, if offered;
  • Step-by-step descriptions of the sealing processes, detailing the applicant’s responsibilities regarding how to prepare and submit documents, and other pertinent information;
  • Fee and waiver information;
  • The estimated time frame of the process and what factors may cause delays;
  • Additional steps necessary after the court denies or grants an application to seal juvenile records.

The tool also reveals significant disparities between the 58 counties. Despite the correlation between financial hardship and involvement in the justice system, three-fourths of California’s counties charge fees as high as $150 to seal juvenile records, with fewer than half of those providing fee waivers. Only a third of counties have any online resources explaining how to seal juvenile records.

Learn more about sealing juvenile records in California.