Sealed without Kisses

In January of 2013, Juvenile [J] was arrested and charged with possession of a dirk or dagger, battery and resisting arrest in violation of numerous California Penal Code sections. (A dagger is a knife with a very sharp point and one or two sharp edges. A dirk is a long-thrusting type of dagger.) At his jurisdictional hearing he admitted to the possession count, and the rest of the counts were dismissed. The court also found him to be a ward of the court, removed him from his parents’ custody, but ordered him to reside with his mother under the supervision of the Family Preservation Program.

In July of 2013, J was charged with vandalism. He admitted to the charges, and his supervision under the Family Preservation Program was extended. He was also detained at the California Youth Center for 24 days.

In December of 2013, a probation officer filed a notice of probation alleging J failed to attend the Community Care Program, was truant in school attendance, failed to observe curfew, and tested positive for marijuana. The minor admitted the truancy violation and the court dismissed the remaining allegations. The court also ordered 30 consecutive days of detention.

In March of 2014, a probation officer again filed a notice of probation alleging continued truancy, failure to attend Community Care Program, failure to follow his curfew restrictions, and positive tests for marijuana use. The minor admitted to truancy and the remaining contentions were dismissed. He was ordered detained for 45 consecutive days and the court terminated the original condition placing the minor in the Family Preservation Program. In April, the court permitted J to reside with his father at his home, as well as with his mother at her residence.

In September of 2014, J was charged with robbery and assault, but those cases were dropped. However, in October of 2014, J was charged with false personation, possession of vandalism tools, and possession of cigarettes, possession of a controlled substance and resisting arrest. He admitted the possession charge and the remaining allegations were dismissed. Sadly, in December of 2014, he was again charged with vandalism and assault likely to cause great bodily injury. He was ultimately sent to juvenile detention in Pennsylvania. He was now 16 years old.

After his time in Pennsylvania, J returned home under the supervision of the court, and in November of 2016, he filed a motion to seal his juvenile court records. The court noted that J was doing better and following his court-ordered programs. The prosecution argued that J’s records should not be sealed because he had not followed a program within the right to seal the records. J’s attorney argued that J had. The court agreed with the prosecution and J appealed.

The main argument for J was that the California legislature changed the law affecting the records of minor. Since his case was not final and was pending on appeal when the legislature amended the law regarding sealing of minor’s records, J’s case fell within the new law.

According to the Appellate Court, “We are persuaded the new statute should apply prospectively to minor’s case...”

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