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Can a juvenile strike be expunged in California?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Jul 05, 2019 | 0 Comments

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This depends on the offense for which the strike was given. A strike cannot be expunged, or removed, if:

  • it was given for a serious sex offense listed in Welfare and Institutions Code 707b,
  • the offense was committed when the defendant was 14 years of age or older, and
  • the juvenile is required to register as a sex offender.

For all other strike offenses, the offender may ask the court to expunge the offense. But the court does not have to do so.

Note that if a judge chooses to seal a defendant's record, they do not get destroyed. They remain on file and they may be accessed by the prosecution, probation or the court if the juvenile is convicted of a later felony.

Please note that four conditions must be met for a juvenile offense to count as a “strike” under California's Three Strike Law. These are:

  1. the defendant was at least 16 years of age when he committed the offense,
  2. the juvenile was found fit to appear in juvenile court,
  3. the offense was a serious or violent felony, and
  4. the offender was adjudicated a ward of the court because of committing a serious or violent offense.

What juvenile strikes can be expunged?

If a juvenile was convicted of a crime and a “strike” was given, he may ask the court to expunge, or remove, the offense. To even request this, though, the juvenile must be either:

  • 21 years of age and have completed supervision by the Division of Juvenile Justice, or
  • 18 years of age and have completed his probation supervision.

If an expungement request is made, it is up to the judge to grant it or deny. If granted, the court does not destroy the juvenile's records. Rather, they remain on file and can be accessed by the prosecution, probation or the court if the juvenile is convicted of a later felony.

Note that a strike cannot be expunged if:

  • it was given for a serious sex offense listed in Welfare and Institutions Code 707b,
  • the offense was committed when the defendant was 14 years of age or older, and
  • the juvenile is required to register as a sex offender.

Serious sex offenses” under W&I 707b include:

  • rape with force, violence, or threat of great bodily harm,
  • sodomy by force, violence, duress, menace, or threat of great bodily harm,
  • lewd or lascivious acts as provided in subdivision (b) of Section Penal Code 288, and
  • oral copulation by force, violence, duress, menace, or threat of great bodily harm.

Note further that a court cannot seal a juvenile record if:

  • the record is for an adult conviction in a criminal court, and/or
  • the defendant was convicted as an adult of an offense involving “moral turpitude” (e.g., murder, a sex crime, or an offense involving dishonesty).

When is a juvenile offense counted as a strike?

Four conditions must be met for a juvenile offense to count as a “strike” under California's Three Strike Law. These are:

  1. the defendant was at least 16 years of age when he committed the offense,
  2. the juvenile was found fit to appear in juvenile court,
  3. the offense was a serious or violent felony, and
  4. the offender was adjudicated a ward of the court because of committing a serious or violent offense.

A “ward of the court” means a guardian was appointed by the court to care for and take responsibility for the juvenile offender.

When is a juvenile offense considered a serious or violent felony?

California Welfare and Institutions Code 707b lists all juvenile offenses that the law considers as serious or violent felonies. Some examples of serious and violent felonies under this statute are:

  • murder,
  • attempted murder,
  • voluntary manslaughter,
  • arson,
  • carjacking,
  • rape with force or violence or threat of great bodily harm.
  • sodomy by force, violence, duress, menace, or threat of great bodily harm.
  • oral copulation by force, violence, duress, menace, or threat of great bodily harm, and
  • kidnapping.

What are some benefits of having a record sealed?

There are two main benefits of having a juvenile offense expunged or sealed. These are:

  1. a defendant does not have to disclose that he has a juvenile record, and
  2. employers cannot consider a juvenile's offense record when making employment considerations.

Please note though that there are some exceptions to both benefits. For example, the military and some federal agencies may not recognize the sealing of records. And, they may be aware of a person's juvenile history even if that person's juvenile records were sealed.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).

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