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Juvenile Criminal Records

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August 11, 2011 Return to News & Events

Juvenile Criminal Records: What Can Be Done to Clean the Slate?

Having a juvenile criminal record need not destroy opportunity.  But what can an individual do to ensure their past may not be a potential impediment to their career opportunities? 

Companies and institutions may rely on professional background screening companies to provide pre-employment screening on potential employees.  A key tool utilized in the background vetting process is criminal records searches, primarily at the county level.  Criminal records searches generally go back seven years and provide information on a variety of court actions.  It is important to note that each state can have different criteria.  For example, in the State of California a search can only report convictions within a seven-year timeline.   In general, county criminal records concern adults but what if there is a juvenile record in an individual's past?  What are the options to move beyond a conviction that may have been a one-time occurrence, the result of a stupid mistake or a prank gone awry? There are options to clean up ones past when it comes to juvenile criminal records.

  • Juvenile criminal records concern any minor between the ages of 7 and 17 that has been accused of committing a crime and/or convicted of said crime.  While each state may have a different definition in regards to a specific age range, anyone under the age of 18 is generally defined as a juvenile.  Further, certain types of egregious criminal activity may allow the court to bring charges against a juvenile as an adult.


  • At the age of 18 one may have the opportunity to petition juvenile court to have their records sealed.  In some states, such as Massachusetts, a certain period of time must pass after the release of an individual from court rulings.  During this waiting period an individual cannot be convicted of criminal activity in any jurisdiction across the United States.  Each state will have unique requirements for sealing records.
  • Sealing a juvenile criminal is not an automatic process and must be handled by the individual seeking to seal their records.  No action can result in records remaining available into early adulthood.  As an example:  In the State of California if no action is taken to seal a juvenile criminal record it will remain available until the individual turns 38. 


  • Each record must be petitioned on an individualized basis and requires its own specific petition. 

It should be noted that sealing a juvenile record may have a mix of benefits.  Sealed records may not necessarily be reported as part of the application process in the public sector.  However, certain public entities, specifically those at the State and Federal level, maintain the right to have sealed convictions reported as such.  In California, government employers and licensing agencies (except for police agencies and concessionaire licensing boards), will treat an individual the same as if they had never been convicted of any crime.  Additionally, sealing a juvenile record may benefit the application process for colleges and universities.

In the end there are several things one must consider:

  • It is up to the individual to petition the court to seal a juvenile record
  • Each state will have specific requirements and forms regarding the sealing process
  • How far back and what a criminal record search can report is specific by state and jurisdiction


For more information on criminal record searches and juvenile criminal records and what may be on a given record go to the industry expert site: or directly to this specific page:


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