SPOKANE, Wash. — Unlike most states, in Washington, juvenile records do not automatically seal when a person turns 18 years old. This can pose significant barriers to employment, housing, and higher education opportunities later in adulthood. Over 3,000 juvenile arrests were made in Spokane County in 2010 and 2011, all creating records that could follow these individuals for the rest of their lives.
Students at Gonzaga University School of Law are taking on this challenge with a free clinic intended to help community members seal their juvenile records. Sealed juvenile records will not appear in criminal history checks.
Four drop-in clinics will be held this academic year. The first was held September 29. Additional clinics will be held November 10, February 2, and April 6. Each clinic will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at Gonzaga University School of Law, 721 N. Cincinnati St. and is open to the public, with no appointments necessary. Staffed by Gonzaga Law students and volunteer attorneys, the clinic will help individuals seal their juvenile records if the record is eligible to be sealed.
“As law students, we are excited to use our skills to help the Spokane community — especially when so many people are looking for jobs or affordable housing,” says Michele Fukawa, a third-year law student that is helping to organize the clinic.
In order to qualify for juvenile recording sealing, an individual must meet three criteria:
1 – It has been at least 2 years since you were last released from confinement for a juvenile misdemeanor, class C or B felony, or completed a diversion or deferred disposition; or it has been at least 5 years since you were last released from confinement for a class A felony.
2- You have remained crime-free since your last conviction.
3- You do not owe any court-ordered fines or fees.
Those with a history of serious crimes or criminal history in other states may not necessarily be eligible for juvenile record sealing.
For more information, please contact the Juvenile Record Sealing Clinic at 509-469-9491 or SpokaneJuvenileRecordSealing@gmail.com.