A young teen walks down the middle of the street

Are Juvenile Records Sealed in Washington State?

If you have a juvenile criminal record, you’re not alone. According to the Washington State 2018 Juvenile Detention Annual Report, over 11,7000 individuals were admitted into a juvenile detention facility throughout the year.

While this may seem like a staggering number, the Washington state government has built in the opportunity to have most juvenile records automatically sealed after a specific amount of time. “Sealed” means that your conviction will no longer show up whenever somebody runs a background check on you. As far as they’ll know, that conviction doesn’t exist.

Most People Don’t Know Juvenile Records are Sealed

Whether your conviction is for something small like drug possession or criminal trespassing, or something more serious, most juvenile convictions can eventually be sealed. Even severe offenses including violent felonies and sex offenses can often be sealed.

But here’s a sad fact: Less than 10 percent of people who are eligible to get their juvenile record sealed in Washington actually go through with the process. Most people just don’t know that the option exists, while others are aware they have the option but are intimidated by the complexity of the legal system.

Juvenile Record

Why You Should Get Your Juvenile Record Sealed

Having a former criminal conviction, even from when you were a kid, can haunt you for the rest of your life. Whenever you’re putting in an application that requires a background check, your juvenile conviction will appear. Most of the time, that’s going to be the end of the road for you: application denied.

A conviction can get in the way of your efforts to rent a home or an apartment. It can also cost you career opportunities, and it can make it a lot harder to get access to credit, financing, and a mortgage.

All of this is on top of the damage that a criminal conviction can do to your social reputation. Many people just don’t trust “ex-cons,” which can get in the way of making friends and getting involved in your community. Yet the reality is that most people’s juvenile court records are not sealed even though they have long since moved on with their lives and become productive, law-abiding members of society.

It doesn’t make sense that people should pay for a childhood mistake for the rest of their lives. The Washington state government realizes this, and in 2014, they moved forward with automatically sealing most juvenile criminal convictions if certain conditions are met.

This process, however, does not apply to older convictions incurred before 2014. That means if you have a juvenile conviction from before 2014, or if you didn’t meet the qualification criteria to have your record automatically sealed, you’ll have to get your juvenile record sealed the old-fashioned way: by petitioning the court.

Seal Your Record with Help from Findley & Rogers

That’s where the attorneys at Findley & Rogers come in. Our expert team of expungement lawyers in Seattle has the legal knowledge and experience to navigate the complicated legal system, so you don’t have to. We can guide you through the entire process, including:

  • Figuring out the specifics of your case and any eligibility requirements you need to meet.
  • Filling out all of the necessary paperwork correctly and completely.
  • Submitting the paperwork to the court and making a formal petition to make sure your juvenile records are sealed.

With Findley & Rogers, you can put your old mistakes behind you once and for all.

Contact us today to get started with a free consultation.