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Can I Get Rid of My Child’s Juvenile Record?

Everyone wants their child to have access to the very best opportunities in life.  But when your child has a juvenile record on file, it can be difficult for him or her find employment. How do you get a job when you have a juvenile record in Pennsylvania?  Can you seal a juvenile record, or are you stuck with it permanently?

What Goes on a Juvenile Record?

Before you start the expungement process, which we’ll explain in greater detail later, it’s important to understand what a juvenile record actually is.  In Pennsylvania, juvenile records are created when charges are filed against a youth, and can actually be broken down into three separate components:

  1. The law enforcement record.  This is what the police keep on file.  It contains information like the nature of the charge, and the record of the arrest.
  2. The juvenile court record.  This is what the court system keeps on file.  It contains notes from any hearings or trials, and can last for up to 25 years.
  3. The juvenile probation record.  This is what the probation department keeps on file.  It contains information like behavioral assessments, and notes from probation officers.

Who Can See a Juvenile Record?

The answer to this question depends on a few factors.  In general, people who can view these records include judges, lawyers, and members of law enforcement.  However, a record can be viewed by anyone if:

  • A 14-year-old was charged with a crime which would have been a felony if they were an adult.
  • A 12- or 13-year-old was charged with an extremely serious felony like rape, murder, kidnapping, or robbery.

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Are Juvenile Records Permanent?

There are two possible ways to close off a record of delinquency:

  1. Expungement.  A record no longer exists, and therefore cannot be viewed by anyone.
  2. Sealing.  A sealed record still exists, but the people who can view it are extremely limited.

However, not everyone will be eligible for sealing or expungement.  There are four situations where expungement is possible:

  1. The charges were dismissed.
  2. The offender was discharged from probation at least five years ago, and has not been charged with any other crimes since then.
  3. The offender was discharged from consent decree supervision at least six months ago.  A consent decree is an agreement that outlines terms and conditions for a juvenile to be supervised, as negotiated with the juvenile probation office.  (See 237 Pa. Code Rule 370.)
  4. The District Attorney grants an expungement to an offender aged 18 or older.

It’s very important to be aware that juvenile records do not simply go away by themselves. If you want to eliminate one, you must file a motion for expungement.  A criminal defense lawyer can help you through this process.

Getting a Job With a Juvenile Record in Pennsylvania

The hard reality is, given the choice between a job candidate with a clean record and a job candidate with a history, many employers will tend to choose the former.  However, that doesn’t mean that finding a job is impossible.  What are some ways to help maximize the chances of getting hired?

First, you should consider applying for an expungement with the help of a criminal defense attorney.  If you have already obtained one, be sure to double check with the Pennsylvania State Police Registry to ensure the record was actually removed.

You should also make sure you understand exactly when your child is obligated to address his or her history with employers.  Being adjudicated delinquent is not the same as being convicted of crime, and this has a direct impact on the way your child can answer questions on job applications.

For example, if your child was adjudicated delinquent (which means he or she committed a delinquent act), and a job application asks if he or she was ever convicted of a crime, the adjudicated offender can answer “no.”  They must answer “yes” only if the question specifically asks if they were adjudicated delinquent.  They must also answer “yes” if the application asks if they ever had a criminal record, even if the record was subsequently expunged.

If the child was adjudicated delinquent and had their record expunged, they can answer “no” to questions about ever being convicted of a crime or felony, and ever being adjudicated delinquent.  However, once again they must answer “yes” to the question of whether they ever had a record which was later expunged.

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A delinquent history can create many problems for children and teenagers later in life, which aren’t exclusively limited to employment. Having a history on file can also pose an obstacle to joining the military, receiving financial aid for college, and even getting a driver’s license.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer may be able to help.  To set up a free and confidential legal consultation, call Young, Marr & Associates at (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania today.

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