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How can juvenile offenders avoid a lifelong criminal record?

On Behalf of | May 26, 2023 | Juvenile Crimes |

Young people are notorious for making bad choices. Teenagers often don’t have very good impulse control to begin with, and the part of their brain that helps them understand long-term consequences has not yet fully developed. Therefore, students and teenagers can easily get themselves into serious trouble without understanding the long-term repercussions of their youthful mistakes.

Involvement with a gang, experimenting with drugs or alcohol, stealing from local businesses or engaging in an act of interpersonal violence are all common examples of juvenile offenses. Someone who has been arrested and convicted of a criminal offense as a teenager might find that they have an uphill battle when trying to get a job or apply to college in the future.

Can youthful offenders potentially seal the criminal records that result after a juvenile offense?

Many youthful offenders can ask to seal their records

California does recognize that young adults make mistakes that they might not have made if they were more mature. Therefore, the juvenile justice program focuses a lot on rehabilitation, psychological support and social services to help identify what may have contributed to a young adult’s criminal behavior and help them to address those underlying issues. Of course, there will also typically be some degree of criminal penalty assessed as well, ranging from probation to fines and incarceration in a juvenile facility. There will also be a record of their arrest and sentence that could turn up on background checks.

After a juvenile offender secures their release from state custody and fulfilled other court requirements, they can often ask the state to seal their record. Juvenile offenders can file a petition with the courts informing them of both the jurisdiction that saw their case and any other agencies that may have provided services. A judge will review the petition and may grant it almost immediately in some cases, sending notice of record ceiling to the individual. Other times they may require a hearing. Even if there will be a hearing, the juvenile offender does not always need to attend if there is no one contesting the sealing of their records.

When a young adult is hoping to move on from a youthful mistake and is ready to seal their records, they may need to have a conversation with a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with juvenile justice and California redemption laws. Sealing a juvenile offense record can help a young adult move on after a conviction, but fighting juvenile charges proactively is often the best option for those hoping to minimize the consequences of a single youthful mistake.