I often receive calls from people who are surprised to learn that their Washington juvenile criminal records have not been automatically sealed or wiped out. This unwelcome news usually pops up when a person is trying to buy a gun and receives a negative response on the mandatory criminal-history check by NICS, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System operated by the FBI. Fortunately, most people in this position will qualify to have the record sealed by the juvenile court.
There is a persistent myth that once you become an adult, your juvenile criminal history somehow dissolves or evaporates, and ceases to have any consequence. In Washington, at least, it just isn’t so. Juvenile-court records are public records, accessible to anyone who asks, just like any other court record. But for those who qualify, a Washington juvenile record may be sealed by presenting a motion to the court.
A court order to seal a juvenile offender record yields tremendous benefits. Continue reading