In New York, the public has limited access to juvenile records, except for certain records involving very serious crimes. In addition, many juvenile records -- such as the records of those found to be only “youthful offenders” -- qualify for automatic sealing; there is nothing that needs to be done to ensure that these records are kept confidential.
Even if you were adjudicated in New York and not granted youthful offender status, your record may be sealed if a court permits it. Generally, a sealed juvenile record is treated as though it never existed. You are not required to disclose information about your sealed juvenile record to anyone.
Sealing a Youthful Offender Record
If your offense was not disqualifying and you were not a repeat offender, the court may have granted you the protections of “youthful offender” status. In that case, your record should have been automatically sealed. You should not have to take any further action to seal your record. (New York Criminal Procedure Law §§ 720.10 – 720.35.)
Sealing a Juvenile DelinquencyRecord
In most cases, if you were the subject of a juvenile delinquency proceeding that ended in your favor, the records should have been automatically sealed at the close of your case. (New York Family Court Law § 375.1.)
If the court’s finding was against you, whether your record qualifies for sealing depends on the circumstances of your case. As long as you were not adjudicated delinquent for a disqualifying felony offense, you can file a petition to have your juvenile record sealed. A judge will order your record sealed if it finds that to do so is in the interests of justice. If the court denies your petition, you must wait a year before trying again. (New York Family Court Law § 375.2.)
How to File
To seal juvenile court record, you must file a motion with the court that handled your case. Contact the court clerk’s office for more information.
Getting Legal Help
Clearing a juvenile record can be complicated. If you are not sure whether your record qualifies for sealing in New York -- or for help completing the necessary paperwork and presenting your case to the court -- you should contact a qualified criminal law attorney. A good lawyer can guide you each step of the way.