What is “sealing” a juvenile record?
Under Texas Family Code Chapter 58, sealing your juvenile record releases you from the requirement that you disclose your involvement in your juvenile proceedings to any employer, state licensing, or anyone else.
What happens if my record is not sealed?
If you do not have your record sealed anyone with a “legitimate interest” may request them. This includes potential employers, educational institutions, and future landlords. Because these people may see your record if it is not sealed, it is important that you make sure your records are sealed if you are eligible.
Is sealing of records self-executing?
No. Juvenile records do not seal themselves.
What about automatic restriction of access to records?
In some situations, where a child has not been convicted of a new offense since he turned 17, his juvenile records will automatically be restricted once he turns 21 years old. This is not as powerful as an actual sealing of the records, but it does restrict the access of the records such that only government agencies are able to look at them (i.e., for purposes of investigation). It is important to note that automatic restriction of access to records does not happen in certain types of cases—for example, gang-related cases, cases which require a juvenile to register as a sex offender, or habitual felony conduct.
How does the sealing process work?
First your attorney must file an Application for Sealing of Files and Records, which includes information about your juvenile case(s). At that point a judge will determine if your records may be sealed, and he will issue an Order for the Sealing of Files and Records in your case. After this, agencies with information about your arrest will seal those records.