Juvenile court erred by failing to apply new statute governing the sealing of juvenile records (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 786) in appellant’s case where his petition to seal his records was pending on the January 1, 2015 effective date of the statute. In juvenile delinquency proceedings, I.F. admitted grand theft and was placed on probation. The juvenile court ultimately found that I.F. successfully completed probation and terminated jurisdiction and wardship. In December 2014, I.F. filed a petition to seal his juvenile records under Welfare and Institutions Code former section 781, subdivision (a). In October 2015, based on the probation department’s finding that “rehabilitation had not been attained” as required by former section 781, the juvenile court denied the petition. I.F. appealed and argued that the juvenile court should have applied newly enacted section 786, not section 781, when ruling on his record sealing request. Held: Reversed. Section 786 became effective on January 1, 2015 and provides that a juvenile court shall seal the records of a minor who satisfactorily completes probation for any offense that is not listed in Welfare and Institutions Code section 707, subdivision (b). There is a presumption that statutes apply prospectively in the absence of a clearly expressed contrary intent. After considering the factors set forth in Californians for Disability Rights v. Mervyn’s LLC (2006) 39 Cal.4th 223, the Court of Appeal determined that applying section 786 under the circumstances of I.F.’s case would be a prospective application of the statute, not a retroactive application. Section 786 is a change in the procedural rules for sealing juvenile records rather than imposition of new or different liabilities for committing criminal conduct. Therefore, I.F.’s petition to seal his records should be governed by the version of section 786 in effect at the time of the juvenile court’s adjudication of the petition. The case was remanded for reconsideration.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A146979.PDF