Juvenile Record Sealing and Juvenile Record Expungement: What are the Differences and Benefits of Each?

The state of Washington permits juveniles to have their records sealed. This also applies to adults who want their juvenile records sealed after reaching the juvenile age requirement. Section 13.50.050 of the Annotated Revised Code of Washington allows those with a juvenile record to have the record sealed. You may have a public record if you have a juvenile conviction in Washington. 

Unfortunately, unless the juvenile record is sealed, potential employers, colleges, and the general public can easily access the juvenile court file containing information about the case. Sealing juvenile records means closing them to the public. However, automatically sealing or expunging records necessitates no action on the part of the juvenile. 

If you have a juvenile record or your child has one, having the record sealed or expunged will be a great asset to their future. Read our blog to learn why sealing the record is the only way to delete it from the public eye, and what the benefits of both sealing and expunging records are.

A “Clean Slate”

A common misinterpretation is that once a child reaches the age of 18, their juvenile records are erased, and they can start over with a "clean slate." That is not always the case, and young offenders may face serious consequences and obstacles due to their juvenile records. The risks of not removing this record include not receiving financial aid for higher education, finding work, joining the military, or entering certain licensed professions.

Why Choose Record Sealing Over Record Expungement

Sealing juvenile records is quite different from the expungement process. An expungement seals your child's criminal record, making it untraceable in a background check. However, in the case of a sealed record, it doesn’t appear in a background check, but someone can request that it be unsealed in court.

Sealing a juvenile record is much better than expunged records because the existence of records of the entire case is deleted from the public eye. The only way to have your juvenile record sealed is to have it sealed by a court. When a juvenile record is shut down, it is removed from the public domain and thus cannot be examined. Fill out this form to get your juvenile record sealed.

Law of Sealing Juvenile Records in Washington

In Washington, juvenile records do not automatically disappear when you reach the age of 18. Unless you get the court to seal them, most juvenile records will remain public. To have a juvenile record sealed, you must file a motion with the court that handled your original case. To qualify for your juvenile record to be sealed in Washington, you must meet several requirements dependent on the nature of your original offense. At Washington Record Expungement, clear your criminal records from the public eye with the help of our lawyers.

You must have lived in the community for at least five years without being convicted or adjudicated of any offense or crime if you have a Class A offense. The five-year period would begin upon release from confinement, including residential treatment. You must also be free of any pending legal proceedings and no longer have to register as a sex offender. Any fines or restitution must be paid in full as well. Those convicted of rape in the first or second degree are currently ineligible to have their record sealed.

If you have a Class B or C offense, a gross misdemeanor, or a misdemeanor offense, you must have spent at least two years in the community since your release date without being convicted of any crime or offense. You must not be the subject of any legal proceedings or be forced to register as a sex offender. You must also pay all of your restitution.

Legal Eligibility Requirements To Seal Juvenile Records

To have a juvenile record sealed in Washington State, you must meet certain eligibility requirements and obtain a judge's approval. If your conviction was not a Class A felony or a sex offense, you might be eligible for your record to be sealed after two years if the following conditions are met:

  • There are no new criminal charges.
  • The victim is not owed any restitution (money).
  • All court fees and fines have been fully paid.
  • There is no active diversion agreement.

However, in a Class A felony, the above conditions must be met for five years.

Legal Eligibility Requirements to Expunge Juvenile Records

To have a juvenile record expunged in Washington State, you must also meet certain eligibility requirements:

  • You must wait at least 2-3 years to expunge your records. The length is dependent on how your case was resolved: if you have no criminal charges filed you must wait 2 years, whereas if charges were filed and you were found not guilty or the case was dismissed, you need to wait for 3.
  • You cannot have any new arrests or convictions during the waiting period.
  • You have no prior felony or gross misdemeanor convictions.
  • Your case did not involve a deferred prosecution.

With these conditions met, you are then eligible to have your records expunged.

Benefits of Juvenile Record Sealing

Having your records sealed is a much better option due to the benefits it has:

  • It allows you to seal your criminal records from the public eye completely.
  • You can easily convince any public officer that you have not been convicted of any crime.
  • Sealing your criminal records will allow you to maintain your public image and reputation as you can move past your criminal history and start a new chapter of your life.
  • Juvenile records sealing allow you to join professional organizations and improve future career opportunities.
  • You can apply for a license easily after shutting down your past criminal records.

A juvenile record-sealing case in Washington takes about 4 to 5 months. At Washington Record Expungement, our lawyers will begin working on your case the day we receive it. Trust us to handle the research and writing, filing the necessary documents, and sending one of our attorneys to any hearings to passionately represent your interests. Although you are unlikely to have to appear in court, you can still keep track of what is going on with your case by logging into the case management system. We do all of this for one low price with no hidden fees. With the help of our lawyers, put your mistakes behind us and clean your records.