How to Seal Court Records. Court proceedings are a matter of public record. However, the court has the power to seal court records. Some records are automatically deemed confidential such as doctor and patient correspondence, sessions with a licensed mental health professional, sexual assault victims and juvenile records. If information disclosed during a trial is harmful to the plaintiff or defendant, file a motion to seal the court record.
Consult an attorney about sealing court records. Use a lawyer that specializes in the practice of law that represents your case in court. Many rules govern court proceedings and an attorney understands the procedure required to make a request of the court.
Contact the court clerk to determine which forms are necessary to seal court records. Obtain the correct form to seal records based on the type of criminal case filed against you. Prevent potential employers or the public from viewing court records.
Follow different procedures for juvenile records or adult petitions for sealing court records. Some records are erased when more than 20 days have elapsed after a defendant is acquitted of a criminal case and no appeal is filed or if there is insufficient evidence to support the indictment after more than 13 months.
Ask the judge for an in-camera inspection of the court record in question. Sensitive information crucial to the case is viewed by the judge. The decision is made to seal or reveal the records by the judge.
Petition the court to seal a portion of the case such as an affidavit, evidence, past awards of compensation or trade secrets. The court decides to seal or allow the use of certain documents for the judicial proceeding.
Stipulate the sealing of the records. The prosecution and defense may mutually agree to seal the records. The judge must approve the request.
File a motion with the court. Request that the judge makes a determination to seal the records. During the trial, make an oral request to seal the entire record or particular documents in the case.
Appeal the judge's decision by filing a motion with the appellate court immediately after an order is issued. A review of the order to seal court records must occur within 72 hours of the order's issue. There are exceptions to this rule.
- All decisions to seal court records are made according to the law and at the discretion of the court.
- A lay person may file the necessary forms, however consult legal advice whenever possible. Use free consultations, legal clinics free to the public, contact your local law school or legal aid for assistance.