Automatic Expungement of Juvenile Records

11/12/2021

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All states have procedures that allow juveniles to petition to either seal or expunge their records in certain cases. However, these procedures can be confusing and cumbersome, and in many instances, the young person is never notified if, when or how the record can be expunged. In some states, a juvenile has no power to initiate the sealing process because sealing or expungement can only occur at the direction of the prosecutor or judge. A recent legislative trend is to make it easier for young people by providing for automatic sealing or expungement of juvenile records, meaning the records are sealed or expunged without any action on the part of the youth. Twenty-two states have laws that automatically seal or expunge juvenile records in certain circumstances.

 
Automatic Expungements of Juvenile Records

State

Automatic Sealing or Expungement Provisions

Exceptions

How the Record is Considered After Sealed/Expunged?

Automatic Provisions for Non-Convictions

Alabama

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Alaska
§ 47.12.300 (c), (e), (f)

Most records of juvenile adjudications may be automatically sealed by court within 30 days of the date of a minor’s 18th birthday or, if the court retains jurisdiction of a minor past the minor’s 18th birthday, within 30 days of the date on which the court releases jurisdiction over the minor.

The court may order record use for good cause shown or may order their use by an officer of the court in making a presentencing report for the court.

 

 

Arizona

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Arkansas
§ 9-27-309

Court must expunge all the records of a juvenile upon his or her twenty-first birthday, in other types of delinquency, dependency-neglect, or families in need of services cases.

 

Records of juveniles who are designated as extended juvenile jurisdiction offenders shall be kept for 10 years after the last adjudication of delinquency, date of plea of guilty or nolo contendere, or finding of guilt as an adult or until the juvenile’s twenty-first birthday, whichever is longer.

The primary exception is for delinquency adjudications in which the juvenile could have been tried as an adult. In such cases, the records remain available for law enforcement purposes for ten years after the final delinquency adjudication or adult criminal conviction. If an adult criminal sentence is imposed on an extended juvenile jurisdiction offender, the record of that case shall be considered an adult criminal record.

 

 

California
Welf. & Inst. Code § 786,
§ 786.5, § 827.95

 

Limited dissemination of records may be made to court personnel, attorneys, guardians, school officials, Child Protective Services, social services (See Cal. Welf. & Inst. § 827.95).

Upon the court’s order of dismissal of the petition, the arrest and other proceedings in the case shall be deemed not to have occurred and the person who was the subject of the petition may reply accordingly to an inquiry by employers, educational institutions, or other persons or entities regarding the arrest and proceedings in the case.

Courts will automatically seal a record if a juvenile satisfactorily completes either:

(1) an informal program of supervision pursuant to probation

(3) a term of probation for any offense.

 

The court must order the petition dismissed and seal all records pertaining to the dismissed petition in the custody of the juvenile court, and in the custody of law enforcement agencies, the probation department, or the Department of Justice.

Colorado
§ 19-1-3.06

 

Any record that is ordered expunged is available to any judge and the probation department for use in any future proceeding in which the person whose record was expunged is charged with an offense as either a juvenile or as an adult.

The person who is the subject of the record that has been expunged may assert that he or she has no juvenile delinquency record.

Young people who successfully complete diversion as an alternative to being charged with an offense shall have any law enforcement or school record expunged automatically.

 

The law enumerates which dismissals and alternative dispositions are eligible for automatic expungement. Does allow a victim the opportunity to object.

Connecticut
§ 54-76o

If a person adjudicated as a youthful offender has been discharged from supervision and reaches the age of 21, the records are “automatically erased,” as long as the person was not subsequently convicted of a felony prior to reaching age 21. 

 

Upon the entry of an erasure order, all references, including arrest, complaint, referrals, petitions, reports and orders, shall be removed from all agency, official and institutional files.

 

Delaware

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

District of Columbia

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Florida
§ 943.0515 (1)(b), (1)(a)

Juvenile records are automatically expunged when the individual reaches 21 years of age, unless the person was previously classified as a serious or habitual juvenile offender, or he had been committed to a juvenile correctional facility or juvenile prison.

 

The Criminal Justice Information Program shall retain the criminal history record of a minor who is classified as a serious or habitual juvenile offender or committed to a juvenile correctional facility or juvenile prison for 5 years after the date the offender reaches 21 years of age, at which time the record shall be expunged unless it meets certain exceptions.

 

 

 

Georgia

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Hawaii

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Idaho

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Illinois
705 ILCS 405/5-915,
405/1-7, 405/5-905

The court shall automatically order the expungement of court and law enforcement records upon the successful termination of an adjudication for an offense which would be considered a Class B misdemeanor, Class C misdemeanor, or petty business offense if committed by an adult. Expungement must be completed by the Department of State Police within 60 days of receipt of the court’s order [5-915(0.2)(a)].

 

With the exception of certain offenses, the court shall order the automatic expungement of records pertaining to a delinquent adjudication 2 years after the case is closed as long as the person has not been subsequently adjudged delinquent, criminally convicted, or has any pending criminal proceedings [5-915(0.3)(a)]

Courts and law enforcement agencies shall report to school authorities a person who has been detained for proceedings under the Juvenile Court Act of 1987.  

 

If a law enforcement agency believes “there is an imminent threat of physical harm to students, school personnel, or others who are present in the school or on school grounds,” the agency may share with school authorities records relating to criminal activity. However, these records may not be made public or become part of the student’s file [705 Ill. Comp. Stat. 405/1-7 & 405/5-905].

Records eligible for automatic expungement “may be treated as expunged by the individual subject to the records” [5-915(5.5)].

The court shall automatically order the expungement of court and law enforcement records upon the dismissal of a petition alleging delinquency, the finding of not delinquent, or the successful termination of an order of supervision. Expungement must be completed by the Department of State Police within 60 days of receipt of the court’s order [5-915(0.2)(a)].

Indiana

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Iowa

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Kansas

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Kentucky
§ 610.330(7),
§ 610.330(6)

 

 

Upon expungement, “the case shall be deemed never to have occurred and all index references shall be deleted, and the person and court may properly reply that no record exists with respect to such person.”

Expungement is automatic at the time of disposition if a juvenile petition is dismissed, or results in a finding of not-delinquent.

Louisiana

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Maine

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Maryland
Cts. & Jud. Proc.
§ 3-8A-27(c)

Juvenile records can be sealed automatically by the court on its own motion. The court, on its own motion or on petition, and for good cause shown, may order the court records of a child sealed, and, upon petition or on its own motion, shall order them sealed after the child has reached 21 years of age. If sealed, the court records of a child may not be opened, for any purpose, except by order of the court upon good cause shown.

This section does not prohibit access to or use of any juvenile record by the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation, the Maryland Parole Commission, Maryland Division of Correction when the Division is carrying out any of its statutory duties.

 

 

Massachusetts

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Michigan
§ 712A.18t,
enacted by SB 681 (2019)

Eligible juvenile records will be automatically set aside and sealed two years from July 3, 2021.

 

A juvenile adjudication is set aside (sealed) without filing an application 2 years after the termination of court supervision or when the person becomes 18 years of age, whichever is later.
 

 

 

 The attorney general and the prosecuting attorney who prosecuted the offense shall not contest the setting aside of an adjudication without an application under this section.

Once a record is sealed, only the juvenile, his or her parents or guardians, law enforcement, and certain state agencies may have access.

Upon the setting aside of an adjudication the person is considered not to have been previously adjudicated, except: The person may still have to pay fines or fees associated with the case and the set aside does not affect the right of a victim of an offense to prosecute or defend a civil action for damages.

 

Minnesota

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Mississippi

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Missouri

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Montana
§ 41-5-215(1),
§ 41-5-216(1)

Formal and informal youth court records, law enforcement records, and department records must be physically sealed on the youth’s 18th birthday.

 

If jurisdiction of the court or any agency is extended beyond the youth’s 18th birthday, the records must be physically sealed upon termination of the extended jurisdiction.

 

When the records pertaining to a youth pursuant to this section are sealed, an agency, other than the department, that has in its possession copies of the sealed records shall destroy the copies of the records.

The requirements for sealed records do not apply to medical records, fingerprints, DNA records, photographs, youth traffic records, records in any case in which the youth did not fulfill all requirements of the court’s judgment or disposition or in any instance in which the youth was required to register as a sexual offender.

 

 

Nebraska
§ 43-2,108.02,
§ 43-2,108.01,
§ 43-2,108.02(1)-(3),
LB 354 (2021)

 

 

 

Records must be sealed if no juvenile petition or criminal complaint was filed, the person has satisfactorily completed diversion or mediation, the charges were dismissed and diversion or mediation for any other charges have been completed, and there are no pending charges.

Nevada
§ 62H.140,
§ 62H.150,
§ 62H.160,
§ 62H.170

When a child reaches 21 years of age, all records relating to the child must be sealed automatically.

 

When records are sealed automatically, all records relating to the child must be sealed that are in the custody of:

(a) The juvenile court or any other court;

(b) A probation officer, probation department or law enforcement agency;

(c) Any other public officer or agency.

 

Unlawful acts that if committed by an adult, would constitute sexual assault, battery with intent to commit sexual assault, lewdness with a child, and/or a felonious act involving the use or threat of violence, are ineligible for automatic sealing.

A sealed record may be inspected by an agency charged with the mental or physical health of the person who is the subject of the record, victim(s) of the crime from which the record originates, and/or civil litigants whose inquiry relates to a pending action against the person who is the subject of the record. The court may determine the inspection of sealed records is necessary for certain data collection and studies or when the person is < 21 years old and is to be sentenced by the court in a criminal proceeding.

When a record is sealed, the person “may reply accordingly to any inquiry concerning the proceedings and the acts which brought about the proceedings.”

 

New Hampshire
§ 169-B:35

Once a delinquent reaches 21 years of age, all court records and individual institutional records, including police records, shall be closed and placed in an inactive file.

Court records of proceedings shall be kept in books and files separate from all other court records. Such records shall be withheld from public inspection but shall be open to inspection by officers of the institution where the minor is committed, juvenile probation and parole officers, a parent, a guardian, a custodian, the minor’s attorney, the relevant county, and others entrusted with the corrective treatment of the minor. Additional access to court records may be granted by court order or upon the written consent of the minor.

 

 

New Jersey

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

New Mexico
§ 32A-2-32,
§ 32A-2-26

Court must seal records relating to juvenile delinquency petitions after both reaching age 18 (with exceptions) and after 2 year waiting period if no subsequent felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude.

 

The department of juvenile justice shall seal the child’s files and records when the child reaches the age of 18 or at the expiration of the disposition, whichever occurs later. The department shall notify the children’s court attorney, the child’s attorney and the referring law enforcement agency that the child’s records are subject to sealing.

A court may grant inspection of a sealed record “to any clinic, hospital or agency that has the person under care or treatment or to other persons engaged in fact finding research.”

 

Youthful offender records may be unsealed by the court for the purpose of considering the setting of bail or other conditions of release when a person (whether a juvenile or adult) is charged with a felony.

When a record is sealed, “the court, law enforcement officers and departments and agencies shall reply, and the person may reply, to an inquiry that no record exists.”

A child who is determined by the court not to be a delinquent offender shall have the child’s files and records in the instant proceeding automatically sealed by the court upon motion by the children’s court attorney at the conclusion of the proceedings.

New York
Crim. Proc. Law
§ 720.35(2),
Fam. Ct. Act § 375.1

Youthful offender records are sealed automatically upon adjudication.

 

All official records and papers on file with court or police agency or the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) are sealed.

Confidential records are available to:
the institution to which the youth has been committed,
the division of parole,
the probation department, the designated educational official (DEO) of the public or private elementary or secondary school in which the youth is enrolled as a student.

 

When a delinquency proceeding is terminated in favor of the juvenile, the court shall immediately seal all related records including arrest record.

North Carolina

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

North Dakota
Juv. P. Rule 19,
§ 27-20.2-21,
§ 54-23.4-17(5),
Sup. Ct. Admin R., Record Records Retention Schedule

 

*Effective Sept. 1, 2022: § 27-20-54

Juvenile court records are confidential and not open to inspection other than by persons authorized by N.D. Cent. Code. § 27-20.2-21.

 

Records are kept for 10 years after expiration of final order or until the person has reached the age of 18, whichever is later.

 

* Certain government agencies may retain index references to juvenile records but must not keep records or files longer than what is allowed by the agency’s governing records retention policy.

Records may be accessed by the court, law enforcement, parties to the proceedings or the guardian ad litem of any party, a public or private institution providing supervision or custody of the person who is the subject of the record, certain state agencies, staff of the uniform victims’ compensation program, certain school officials, the victim or victim’s guardian.

Upon the final destruction of a file or record, the proceeding must be treated as if it never occurred.

 

Upon inquiry in any matter the child, the court, and representatives of agencies, shall properly reply that no record exists with respect to the child.

 

Ohio

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Oklahoma

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Oregon

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Pennsylvania

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Rhode Island

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

South Carolina

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

South Dakota

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Tennessee

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Texas
Fam. Code § 58.253,
§ 58.007,
§ 58.252,
§ 58.261,
§ 58.251

A record is automatically sealed if the person has reached the age of 19, the delinquent conduct was not was not a felony, the person does not have any pending proceedings, has not been transferred from juvenile to criminal court, as an adult has not been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony punishable by jail, and does not have any pending charges as an adult for a misdemeanor or felony punishable by jail.  

 

If a record has been sealed under the provisions of Chapter 58, the juvenile court may not provide said record to a prosecuting attorney.

Exempted records include: criminal street gang maintained by the Department of Public Safety or law enforcement, sex offender registration, records collected or maintained by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department for statistical and research purposes.

 

A juvenile justice agency, criminal justice agency, the person who is the subject of the record (or his or her guardians), and certain school officials for the purpose of threat assessment may access records.

A person whose record has been sealed does not have to disclose the juvenile matter in any proceeding, application for employment, licensing, admission, housing, or other public or private benefit. The sealed record may not be used against the person in any perjury prosecution, criminal or civil proceeding, or administrative proceeding involving a government entity.

The court shall immediately order the sealing of all records upon adjudicating that the person did not engage in delinquent conduct.

Utah

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Vermont
33 V.S.A. § 5117,
§ 5119,
13 V.S.A. § 163

Court and law enforcement records are generally not open to public inspection.

 

Records relating to juvenile adjudications that occurred on or after July 1, 1996, shall be sealed two years after discharge, unless, on motion of the state’s attorney, the court finds that additional charges are pending, and that rehabilitation has not been attained.

An index of sealed records that contain only a person’s name, date of birth, and docket number can be accessed by certain agencies, a sheriff, a police chief, a State’s Attorney general, the Attorney General, the Director of the Vermont Crime Information Center, and certain staff needed to establish and maintain the indices.

When a record is sealed, the act can be considered as never to have occurred. The person, the court, and law enforcement agencies shall reply that no record exists.

The court shall expunge juvenile diversion cases two years after completion if restitution has been paid, the person has no subsequent convictions or pending proceedings, and rehabilitation has been attained to the satisfaction of the court.

Virginia
§ 16.1-306,
§ 16.1-307

Court records are automatically destroyed annually if the juvenile is at least age 19 and five years have elapsed since the last hearing in any juvenile case.

 

The clerk of the juvenile court shall on a designated date every year, destroy its files, papers and records, including electronic records, connected with any proceeding concerning a juvenile in such court.

 

Juvenile motor vehicle records will be destroyed when the juvenile turns age 29.

If a juvenile was found guilty of an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult, the records with be retained and automatic destruction is unavailable.

Once the record has been destroyed, the court, law enforcement, and other involved agencies shall reply that no record exists. The person who is the subject of the record may reply to an inquiry that no record exists.

 

Washington
§ 13.50.260

 

*HB 1399 (2021), effective Jan. 1, 2022

The court automatically schedules a sealing hearing after the latest of the following events take place: the person turned 18, the person’s probation has ended, or the person has been released from confinement or completed parole.

 

The court shall enter an order to seal the record if the person is no longer on supervision for the case being considered and restitution, if ordered, has been paid to the victim.

 

Automatic sealing does not apply to serious, sex, or drug offenses.

Prosecutors and criminal justice agencies have access to sealed records.

 

The record of an employee is not admissible in an action for liability against an employer based on the former juvenile offender’s conduct to show that the employer knew or should have known of the juvenile record of the employee. However, a sealed record may be admissible if a background check conducted or authorized by the employer contained the information in the sealed record.

Any subsequent criminal adjudication or adult felony charge unseals the case.

 

* HB 1399 provides that under Title 18 of the Revised Code of Washington, “a licensing authority may disqualify an individual form obtaining a professional license, government certification, or state recognition if it determines the individual’s conviction is related to the occupation or profession
unless the individual has requested and received a certificate of 14 restoration of opportunity under RCW 9.97.020.”

Upon acquittal after a finding of fact or upon the dismissal of charges with prejudice, the court shall enter an order to immediately seal the court record. State appeal rights apply.

West Virginia

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

Wisconsin
§ 973.015

At the time of sentencing, the court shall order the record expunged upon successful sentence completion if the offense was Class A misdemeanor or Class I felony as defined by § 942.08 (Invasion of Privacy) and person was under the age of 18 when he or she committed it.

 

 

 

Wyoming

No automatic sealing or expungement of records in statute.

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