I'm 20 and living in California. I have just passed all the interview stages for a Wells Fargo teller position. All I need to complete the interview process is the background check.

However I'm worried that they'll be able to see an arrest for theft from when I was 13 or 14. My parents were going through an ugly divorce and I was just having a rough time as a teen, but I'm happy to say I grew out of all that! So now I'm wondering, what happens now in regards to my criminal record as a teen?

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    IANAL, but I think that most juvenile records in the US are sealed once you become an adult.
    – David K
    Apr 29, 2015 at 17:47
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    This should be useful - Sealing Juvenile Records in California
    – David K
    Apr 29, 2015 at 17:54
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    Above all else, be honest, but brief. If they ask if you have an arrest record, tell them that you were charged with petty theft at 13, and if pressed, explain that it was a rough time during your parent's devorce, and that you have gotten over it. Do not feel the need to disclose any other details, and do not try to joke about it - they are taking this hiring process seriously, and you should too.
    – Zibbobz
    Apr 29, 2015 at 19:03
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    Were you just arrested or were you tried and convicted as well?
    – Andy
    Apr 29, 2015 at 23:04
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    Did you ever, at any point in the application process, say "no" to a question about having been arrested or convicted of anything?
    – Random832
    Apr 30, 2015 at 3:45

4 Answers 4


First, verify that your juvenile records are sealed.

Second, if your juvenile records are not sealed, fire off a request to seal them like, in the next ten minutes and somebody just lit a bonfire under your butt.

According to this link on sealed records in your state of California, once your records are sealed, you can say "no" to the question, "Do you have a criminal history?" unless you like living dangerously.

Quotes from the link:

  1. 'Actually, juvenile proceedings aren't even considered "criminal" in nature. This means that if you are found guilty and declared a "ward of the juvenile court," technically it isn't a criminal conviction. Thus even if your juvenile records aren't sealed, you could still say you've never been convicted of a "crime."'

  2. '... as Riverside CA criminal defense attorney Michael Scafiddi4 explains, "That technicality could land you in trouble if a prospective employer, state licensing agency, lending agency, school, etc. later discovers your record and believes you were being deceitful. That's why it's advisable to take the legal steps necessary to seal your juvenile record."'

In summary, don't take unnecessary chances - see to it that your juvenile records are sealed.


I know in finance in the US there are many regulations. Employees go through background checks as part of the regulations. They are going to ask, so you should either confess or make sure your records were truly sealed.

I worked with someone who thought a crime had been erased (he was not a minor), so he lied about it. Turns out, they did not erase the record, so he was fired for lying about it.

Sometimes it's the cover-up and not the crime.

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    if it's not expunded just admit to it (because they will find it) and explain that it was a learning experience, tough time, youth, etc and so forth. Although working at a bank you might want to say a prayer or two. Apr 29, 2015 at 18:44

There is a difference between arrest and convictions. Anyone can be arrested for almost anything. That doesn't mean they were convicted and found guilty. If you were found guilty then you need to probably pay a service to do a background check on yourself. If they can find something then you need to see if there is a way to deal with it - and right away.

If you plead no contest or accepted some deal where the theft was expunged then you can just say "no" because it is over. Again if you aren't sure it is worth getting a background check done on yourself so that you can be honest about it.


I believe that there are companies that will basically give you the results of a background check. The biggest questions here are legal - the offenses of minors are often sealed records, but the nuances of your particular situation are harder to say and involve needing a lawyer - both on whether your particular case was sealed and whether a sealed record will be enough to turn off Wells Fargo - in some cases a sealed record can be perceived as a sealed record.

A lot of this is both what are the regulation requirements of this particular job and how does Wells Fargo interpret them.


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