When a young adult makes a mistake that leads to a criminal record, it can have a lifelong impact. A juvenile record can follow the child into adulthood, oftentimes preventing the ability to later rent an apartment, get a job, or obtain credit. One way to help a juvenile with a criminal record is through record sealing or expungement. Here are some things you need to know.
What Does Record Sealing and Expungement Mean?
In some states, these terms are used interchangeably. In others, they have two different meanings. Typically, a record sealing simply means a juvenile's criminal record will remain inaccessible unless someone provides a court order to unseal it. The record still remains and can be accessed when necessary.
An expungement means a juvenile's record is destroyed and no longer accessible by anyone no matter if one has a court order or not. Once an expungement happens, the record is essentially clear, and the juvenile will have a clean slate going into adulthood as long as no further crimes are committed.
Are Expungements Automatic?
Some convictions of juveniles can be automatically expunged. However, there are others that are not automatic. When a record is expunged automatically, the juvenile can no longer be connected to the conviction. Automatic expungements typically happen when the child reaches the age of adulthood in their state.
In addition, there has to be a certain number of years since a hearing and the offense would not have been a felony had the juvenile been an adult at the time of the crime. The number of years will vary by state.
What About Juvenile Felonies?
If a juvenile has a felony on their criminal record, it can be more difficult to get a sealed record or automatic expungement. If the juvenile is over a certain age, there is no option to get the record expunged automatically. The juvenile will only be able to obtain an expungement by requesting a pardon, similar to how adults must request a pardon for a felony.
Juvenile crime is difficult for both parents and children. If your child has committed a crime and you have hopes of getting their record sealed or expunged, you need to speak to an attorney to find out if your child has any options. You will have to provide some information about the child's criminal activities to start building a defense.
For more information, contact a juvenile criminal lawyer.