Sealing your Juvenile Court Criminal Record
The video above gives general information on what is required to seal a juvenile record in Washington State. The video was produced by Northwest Justice Project which has several videos available. The Cowlitz County Juvenile Department handles several of the steps, so before beginning the process you should call us at 360-577-3100.
Court records are maintained by the Clerk of each separate county's court.
If you resided in Cowlitz County at the time of your offense and your offense occurred in Cowlitz County, your records are maintained by the Cowlitz County Juvenile Department. The paperwork for record sealing may be obtained here. You can also download Sealing Juvenile Records Pamplet that was produced by Teamchild which can help walk you through the process. Many of those forms will be provided through our office.
The circumstances under which a juvenile's records may be vacated, destroyed or sealed are very limited. The power of judges to vacate, seal or expunge is limited by laws enacted by the legislature, court rules promulgated by the Supreme Court of Washington and the Constitution. (Please see RCW 13.50.010)
The laws concerning criminal records and criminal history change frequently. You may wish to consult an attorney regarding your own circumstances. (Please see Criminal History and Criminal Records: A Guide on When and How to Challenge, Seal, Vacate or Expunge)
Whether a court record of conviction may be vacated, sealed, or destroyed depends upon the type of conviction (felony or misdemeanor), and the court where the conviction was obtained (juvenile or adult).
Please note: the vacating, sealing, or destroying of a court record does not necessarily change or delete the records maintained by law enforcement agencies. Requests to change or delete records maintained by a law enforcement agency should be made to that agency.
If you were found guilty of an offense in juvenile court, you may ask the court to seal the records of conviction by filing a motion with the court. The court may grant your request in cases where the sentence was announced after July 1, 1995, if: Your offense was not a sex offense or a Class A felony; Since you were last released from confinement, you have spent a specified number of years in the community (10 years for a Class B felony or 5 years for a Class C felony) without committing any offense or crime that resulted in a conviction; No proceedings are pending against you seeking the conviction of a juvenile offense or a criminal offense; No proceeding is pending against you seeking the formation of a diversion agreement; You have paid all restitution.
Procedures for sealing records maintained by Cowlitz County Juvenile Department
When you come in to the Juvenile Department, you will be asked to fill out a record sealing request form. Besides your current residence and phone number, you will asked to list all previous addresses at which you've lived since your release from probation.
Once you have submitted the form, Juvenile Department staff will prepare a Motion and Affidavit for Order Sealing Records and will set a court date approximately six weeks out. You will be notified either by phone or mail that this document is ready for your signature. It is your responsibility to come in and sign this document. The record sealing cannot proceed without your signature.
Once the Motion and Affidavit for Order Sealing Records is signed, you will be given a copy of the Motion and Affidavit and a copy of the Notice of Hearing to Seal Records for your records. Copies of the Notice of Hearing to Seal Records will be sent to all law enforcement agencies within Cowlitz County, the Washington State Patrol and the Cowlitz County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. If their records show that you have no pending criminal actions and that you have not committed any criminal offenses since you were released from Juvenile Court probation, a member of the Juvenile Department staff (usually a probation officer) will present your Motion and Affidavit to the court on the date in the Notice of Hearing.
If the court approves your Motion and Affidavit, the judge will sign an Order Sealing Records which directs the Juvenile Department to seal the court file(s) requested in your Motion and Affidavit.