Sealing and Expungement of Juvenile Records
At least four states made changes in 2020 to make it easier for juveniles to maintain confidentiality or to seal/expunge their records.
Michigan enacted the “Clean Slate for Kids” package of bills, (SB 681 and SB 682) in 2020. SB 681 established the automatic expungement of traffic records and some misdemeanor violations if the young person does not commit any more offenses in two years or until the young person turns 18. SB 682 provides that juvenile records are no longer public and only able to be viewed by certain law enforcement agencies.
North Carolina passed new expungement rules related to its Raise the Age legislation. The new law allows for a person or a prosecutor to file a petition of expungement with a $175 fee, for misdemeanors and H and I level felonies if the following conditions are met:
- At the time of the offense the young person was 16 or 17 years old.
- Any sentence or period of probation or supervision has been served.
- All restitution has been paid.
A few examples of H and I level felonies include credit card theft, larceny of property, possession of stolen goods and breaking and entering.
Utah’s Juvenile Expungement Act, signed in May 2020 clarified procedures related to expungement of records. A young person can file a petition for expungement after they have turned 18 and at least one year has passed since the young person’s release from custody (or in the case of young people who were not in custody, at least one year has passed since the court had jurisdiction in the case). In deciding whether to grant the petition, the judge must “consider whether the rehabilitation of the petitioner has been attained to the satisfaction of the court, including the petitioner's response to programs and treatment, the petitioner's behavior subsequent to the adjudication, and the nature and seriousness of the conduct." The court may order all the petitioner’s records sealed if the young person has no pending cases, has not been convicted or a violent felony within the last five years and has paid restitution.
Washington took measures to streamline court procedures related to juvenile expungement. For example, the court now automatically schedules a sealing hearing for a person who was under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court who turns 18, and if the young person meets the statutory requirements for sealing a record, the court will grant it without a contested hearing. Previously, the process was more onerous with a possibility of multiple hearings.