Were you convicted of criminal charges as your youth? Are those convictions limiting your ability to lead a productive and healthy life as an adult? Many people make regrettable mistakes when they're young. Unfortunately, sometimes those mistakes can have long-lasting consequences. A conviction of a crime as a juvenile could hurt your chances of getting into college, obtaining a job, or even volunteering in your community.
Fortunately, you may have the option of having your juvenile convictions expunged. This means that the convictions are essentially sealed and removed from your record. It's almost as if they never happened. You can even say on job applications that you don't have a criminal history, assuming of course that you have no other convictions. Expungement isn't an option for everyone. Below are a few things to keep in mind:
The rules vary by state. However, in most cases, you must be at least 18 before expungement can be considered. It's also possible that the terms of your sentencing or plea deal stated a different age, such as 21 or 25, before expungement is an option.
The passage of time is also an important element. Expungement is meant for those who have truly changed and improved since their conviction. In the court's eyes, time must pass before someone can have that kind of transformation. There are no hard and fast guidelines, but it's safe to assume that several years must pass before a court will consider expunging your record.
Seriousness of the Offense
Some charges are so serious that they'll never be expunged, no matter how much you change or how much time passes. For example, assault that leaves someone with serious injuries may be difficult to expunge. Sexual crimes, especially against children, may not be up for consideration. It's wise to consult with a criminal defense attorney who can evaluate the specifics of your case.
Again, to gain expungement, you must demonstrate that you've changed. If you've had subsequent convictions, the court may be hesitant to consider request. You need to demonstrate a clean record over a long period of time. It may also be helpful if you demonstrate regret for your actions and even volunteer in your community to help those less fortunate.
Remember that even if your convictions are expunged, that doesn't mean they go away completely. There could still be news reports of the incident and an expungement won't delete those. Also, some employers, like those in law enforcement or in fields that work with children, may still be able to see your convictions even after they're expunged. A criminal defense attorney like those at Goodman Katz Koonce & Maroc can help you determine if you should pursue an expungement.