In Washington, juvenile arrest and court records are open to the public. You may, however, be able to have your records sealed, following the guidelines below. A sealed juvenile record may be viewed only by prosecutors or court clerks. Generally, sealed juvenile records are treated as though they never existed. You are not required to disclose information about your sealed juvenile record to anyone -- for instance, to colleges or potential employers. That said, if you are convicted of another crime in the future, your record will be unsealed and once again made available to the public.
Does Your Juvenile Record Qualify for Sealing?
Your arrest and court records may qualify for sealing if all of the following are true:
- there are no juvenile criminal charges, adult criminal charges, or diversions pending against you
- you have paid any restitution owed
- you have remained crime free for an established length of time -- two or five years depending on the seriousness of the offense.
In addition, if you were granted a deferred disposition that was vacated prior to June 7, 2012, your record may be sealed if you are at least eighteen years old and have paid any restitution owed.
Records for sexual offenses are not eligible for sealing.
(Washington Statutes § 13.50.050.)
How to File
To seal your juvenile court record, you must file a “Motion to Seal” with the court that handled your juvenile case. For more information, contact the court clerk’s office.
Getting Legal Help
Clearing a juvenile record can be complicated. If you are not sure whether your record qualifies for sealing in Washington -- or for help completing the necessary paperwork or 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.