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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 69679 Find in a Library
Title: Study of Juvenile Record Sealing Practices in California
Journal: Pepperdine Law Review  Volume:4  Issue:3  Dated:(Summer 1977)  Pages:543-575
Author(s): L Edwards; I J Sagatun
Date Published: 1977
Page Count: 33
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The California statute permitting juvenile records to be sealed upon request is examined in detail, with focus on the creation of such records, probation department sealing practices, and suggested improvements.
Abstract: Records are created when a juvenile has any contact with law enforcement agencies from minor traffic violations to placement in a correctional facility. Minors who are truant from school, runaways, or victims of parental neglect also have records. In spite of California laws restricting access, information from these records can be obtained legally and illegally by many agencies and private parties. Studies have shown that a juvenile record, regardless of its nature, will limit a person's employment opportunities. According to the Welfare and Institutions Code Section 781, persons having reached their eighteenth birthdays may petition the court to seal the juvenile records, or the county probation department may do so on their behalf. The court grants the request if it determines that the petitioner has been rehabilitated and was not convicted of a felony or misdemeanor. Questionnaires on record sealing procedures were sent to all 58 juvenile probation departments and 52 responded, frequently attaching additional materials. The data showed considerable variation on the length of time records were kept and on the methods of disposal. Procedures for informing minors of their sealing rights differed, and it appeared that those juveniles who had committed more serious offenses were most likely to be told about Section 781, and receive that advice in written form. Implementation procedures were lengthy and complicated, and courts often told only local agencies to seal records, excluding Federal and private organizations. Monitoring procedures to insure compliance with the sealing order were inadequate in many departments, and several cited difficulties in obtaining compliance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Data on sealing requests showed that most minors did not take advantage of their Section 781 rights, particularly those who had minimal contact with the law and thus deserved to have their records sealed. In most counties, 90 percent or more of all minors who applied for a record sealing order had their requests granted. Statute revisions should provide for the automatic destruction of certain records and a review of all other records at the minor's eighteenth birthday. Texts of Section 781 and the proposed revision are appended. Footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): California; Expungement or sealing of records
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