There is often a misconception that a juvenile record is “wiped clean” upon turning 18. This was the law until September, 1994. Texas does have strict privacy laws for juvenile records; however, this does not mean that certain people or entities cannot view it.
An individual must request, to the court, to have their juvenile record sealed. As long as you meet the requirements, the court typically allows your record to be sealed.
Can my past be sealed?
In many cases, juvenile records can be sealed. It mostly depends on the circumstances and degree of the offense. In the state of Texas, misdemeanor and felony offenses have different requirements that need to be met before your record can be sealed.
For misdemeanor offenses:
- Two years have passed since the charges
- No repeat offenses
- No pending or current offenses
For felony offenses:
- You are 19 years or older
- No convictions or delinquent conduct since the charges
- You weren’t tried in adult court
- No charges since the age of 17
- Your record was not used during criminal proceedings
There are other options and exceptions to this law as well. If you complete a court ordered drug program, the court may also agree to seal your record. However, if your trail went into your adult years, you are on a sex offender registry or had repeat offenses; your record may not be eligible to be sealed.
For the most part, once a record is sealed, you do not have to disclose any information about your record or past to anyone.
How do I seal my record?
If you meet all of the standards above, you simply file an application to seal your records. You must file the application in the juvenile court in the county where the proceedings occurred. There is not a time period for which you must seal your records. You can petition to have it sealed at any time.
Can my record be unsealed?
Your record should only be unsealed if you request to see your record. A prosecuting attorney can request to have your record unsealed if it contains a felony and you are being tried for another felony. The Department of Public Safety can also request to have your file unsealed if you are applying for a gun license.
Getting help with the process
Sealing a juvenile record can be confusing and complicated. It is wise to consult with a criminal defense lawyer to verify if your record is eligible to be sealed. They will put to rest any concerns or questions you may have about the entire process.
An attorney will also assist with the application process and court hearings. Sealing records can be a delicate situation, place your trust in a reliable attorney who will help ensure a secure future, one free from mistakes of the past.