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How Can I Expunge a Juvenile Record?

As a young person, your brain and ability to make good decisions are still growing. In addition to riskier behavior, juveniles, along with those who have a mental illness or diminished mental capacity are at a higher risk of falsely confessing.  Fortunately, juvenile records can often be expunged.

Whether your criminal record was rightfully earned or you confessed to a crime you did not commit, there may be a way out. The expungement process can effectively clear your record so that the crimes of your youth don’t follow you into adulthood. It is possible to move forward with the ability to get a good job, get into a college, and rent an apartment without the stigma of a criminal record holding you back.

If you have committed a crime while a juvenile, you are not alone in your struggle to break free of that old identity. Let’s look at how and when it is possible to expunge your juvenile record.

What Are Juvenile Records?

Juvenile records include all documents or information referring to 

  • Arrests
  • Adjudications
  • Complaints
  • Referrals
  • Juvenile petitions
  • Orders including papers filed in juvenile proceedings (summons, petitions, custody orders, motions, recordings of hearings)

These records are kept at the county courthouse and also in a new juvenile court record database called JWise. If a child is older than 10 years old and is charged in juvenile court with a felony offense, his or her fingerprints and photographs might be taken.

Juvenile Records are Not Public

Juvenile records are not available for public access online. However, there are some exceptions as follows:

  • Probation officers
  • Prosecutor may share information with other law enforcement officials 
  • Court counselors and prosecutors
  • Your school principal 
  • Agencies investigating child abuse, neglect, dependency, or providing protective services
  • Your attorney 
  • Your parent or guardian

When you commit a crime as an adult, even if your records are expunged, there may be some sites online that hold onto your public records and illegally transmit them to others. This is highly unlikely with juvenile records once you file for and obtain an expungement.

When Can I File For Expungement?

Once you reach 18, you may file a petition for expungement in the court of your adjudication. This is a process that requires an experienced defense attorney to properly navigate. You must file extensive documents with the correct codes of law along with affidavits. In addition, there may be a hearing where you will need to provide witnesses to your character who are not related to you or to each other.

Expungement is also available earlier under certain circumstances. Talking with your attorney can help you know whether your specific case may be eligible for expungement sooner than the guidelines state.

What If I Wasn’t Charged?

Individuals may also petition to expunge records of charges and allegations that did not result in an adjudication. Whether you were actually prosecuted as a juvenile or your case was dismissed, the record of the arrest and of the charges still exists. You must file an expungement application to clear these charges.

Which Juvenile Crimes are Eligible for Expungement?

Common juvenile crimes include DWI, possession of drugs or paraphernalia, assault, sexual battery, underage drinking, and theft. Any of these crimes on your record can cause problems for your future employment and living situation. 

Certain crimes are labeled as violent crimes and are not generally eligible for expungement. Crimes that not eligible for expungement, even when committed as a juvenile include crimes such as murder, rape, and kidnappings. Any Class A, B1, B2, C, D, or E felonies cannot be expunged.

If You Need an Expungement of a Juvenile Record

If you were accused or charged with a crime, whether dismissed or adjudicated, seeking expungement is your best course of action. Talk with your criminal defense attorney about your next steps. The process of expungement can take 6 months to a year, but your attorney can keep things moving along. Don’t go through life with your crimes hanging over your head. You deserve the right to live your life in freedom without a black mark on your record. Give us a call or contact us online at Scharff Law to get started expunging your record.