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Name: In re J.S. (2024) 100 Cal.App.5th 246
Case #: C099115
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/05/2024
Summary

Juvenile was not foreclosed from the record sealing provision of Welfare and Institutions Code section 786 because his subsequent finding of wardship was not based on a felony offense or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude. J.S. was adjudged a ward of the juvenile court and placed on formal probation. About ten months later, J.S. was again adjudged a ward of the juvenile court based on a finding that he committed a misdemeanor battery. Following the successful completion of probation, the juvenile court ordered that all records pertaining to the second juvenile wardship petition be sealed pursuant to section 786, but denied J.S.’s motion to seal the records from the first wardship petition because there was a new finding of wardship during the period of probation. J.S. appealed, arguing the juvenile court erred by interpreting section 786(c)(1) as precluding relief as a matter of law when there is any new finding of wardship during the period of probation. Held: Reversed and remanded. Section 786(a) provides that the court shall order sealed all records pertaining to a dismissed petition where a ward of the juvenile court “satisfactorily completes” a term of probation. This requires that “the person has no new findings of wardship or conviction for a felony offense or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude during the period of . . . probation.” (§ 786(c)(1).) After examining the statutory scheme and legislative history of section 786, the Court of Appeal concluded that nothing in the statutory scheme categorically precludes relief under section 786 based on any new wardship finding, but rather, this categorical bar is limited to those who suffered a new finding of wardship (i.e., adjudication) for a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude.