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Is an expungment of your juvenile record guaranteed?

As children inch closer to adulthood, they tend to want to challenge authority or push boundaries to see how much they can get away with. It's during this time that teens are most prone to commiting criminal acts that may land them in hot water, impacting their lives indefinitely in the future.

While you may have been led to believe that any juvenile convictions that your child has will seamlessly fade away the moment they turned 18, this won't automatically occur. The sealing, or expungement, of juvenile records is not done automatically. Instead, the court must be formally petitioned. Then, the court can order that juvenile records be sealed or expunged.

Unless this is timely done, it's likely that any teens with juvenile convictions will be required to disclose them on any college, professional licensure, job or financial aid applications or military forms until the expungement order gets signed and filed. It's only once they're sealed that those with juvenile records will be able to lawfully answer on applications "no" when asked if they have any prior convictions.

When it comes to sealing or expunging your child's criminal records, it's ultimately left to up to the discretion of the judge to make a decision. It's likely that a judge will weigh the seriousness of the crime your son or daughter committed in deciding whether he or she will have to disclose their criminal record in the future.

If your child has been arrested for a crime, it's important that you not count on him or her having the criminal record expunged later. Instead, it's important that you learn about your child's rights in his or her case when deciding how to proceed with a defense or guilty plea.

Source: GirlsHealth.gov, "The truth about having a juvenile record," accessed May 23, 2018

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