Sealing Juvenile Records Helps People Recover from Mistakes of Their Youth
According to California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office, arrest rates for children ages 11 to 17 are significantly higher than those for adults. A group of scientists argue that this high rate is explained with simple biology. They state that the brain’s prefrontal lobe, which may play a significant role in “inhibiting inappropriate behavior,” does not fully develop until a child reaches the age of 20. As a result, children may not be able to control impulsive behavior.
Although not all scientists support this argument, public policy has generally agreed that children convicted of juvenile offenses should be treated differently than adults. In addition to focusing on rehabilitation over punishment, many court systems seal juvenile records once the young person reaches 18 to prevent poor childhood decisions from negatively impacting the child’s future.
Not All Juvenile Records Are Automatically Sealed
Unfortunately, it is a common misconception that once a young person reaches this age (usually 18), juvenile criminal records are automatically sealed. Like many states, California often requires juveniles to apply to receive the protections connected to sealing their juvenile records.
However, even after a young person jumps through the bureaucratic hoops associated with receiving these protections, some applications are denied. Although the state’s court system recognizes that juveniles require different treatment than adults, it continues to punish juveniles for a certain set of crimes long after they turn eighteen. Although most crimes can be expunged or sealed, certain crimes remain on the young individual’s record even after becoming an adult, including both robbery and carjacking crimes that occurred when the juvenile was over the age of 14.
Denial of this application can negatively impact a young adult’s future. The presence of a criminal record can impede upon the ability to get a job, get into college and find an apartment.
GETTING HELP BEFORE THE CHARGE BECOMES A RECORD
These types of problems highlight the importance of aggressively defending juveniles accused of crimes. From underage driving under the influence to juvenile theft, drug crimes or even murder, it is important that teens charged with criminal offenses have an aggressive defense team.
If your child has been charged with juvenile offense, you should speak with a juvenile defense lawyer to ensure you understand the charges and your options. San Bernardino and Riverside juvenile defense attorneys can evaluate the case against your child and advise you of your rights.