Each year, thousands of young people in Washington and other states commit offenses that go on their juvenile records. Even if an individual remains on the right side of the law, that offense can still haunt them years later. If you are one of those juvenile offenders, is there anything you can do about it?
How juvenile mistakes can affect you
Some juvenile offenses can affect entrance into colleges and universities, your ability to get certain jobs, eligibility to enter the United States Armed Forces and more. Every time a juvenile encounters the justice system, whether it’s the result of an arrest, probation, out-of-home placement or other circumstances, the record becomes longer. Many people mistakenly believe that a juvenile record is expunged once the individual reaches 18, especially if there were only one or two minor offenses. However, that is not true.
Although some laws protect the availability of juvenile arrest and court records, they remain available unless you take specific steps. State legislatures across the United States have recognized the need for automatic record clearing of juvenile records for certain individuals. The state of Washington does not have automatic sealing of juvenile records. However, you can petition to have your juvenile records sealed if you meet certain requirements.
Mitigating consequences from juvenile actions
While some juvenile crimes do not carry the same consequences as adult charges, getting your records sealed will still be beneficial. You should gather facts about your juvenile criminal history, including any charges that were dropped, along with the financial history of those cases.
Determining whether you qualify to seal your records can be complicated. Note that the records for some offenses cannot be sealed. Once you’re sure you are eligible, make sure that you follow all the necessary steps and provide the requisite agencies with your information.