If You Get a Felony as a Minor: Does It Go Away at 18?

If You Get a Felony as a Minor: Does It Go Away at 18?

Many individuals who were charged with a felony as a minor often wonder what happens to their juvenile record when they turn 18. Does the felony conviction disappear, or will it continue to impact their adult life? This article aims to provide insight into how juvenile records are handled once a person reaches adulthood and possible expungement options.

When a minor is charged with a felony, their criminal record is typically considered confidential, and most people cannot access it without permission. Upon turning 18, some states may automatically seal a juvenile record, making it even harder for others to access, whereas in other states, one has to request that their records be sealed. It’s important to note that records are not automatically erased when a person turns 18 and may still impact prospects.

Expungement – or sealing or destroying a person’s juvenile record – may be an option for some individuals. This process, however, varies depending on the state and the specific circumstances around the criminal conviction. It’s also crucial to acknowledge that some felony convictions may never be expunged.

Key Takeaways

  • Juvenile records, including felonies, do not automatically disappear at age 18
  • Sealing or expunging a juvenile record may be possible, depending on varying state laws and circumstances of the felony.
  • A juvenile felony conviction can still impact a person’s prospects, even after turning 18

Understanding Juvenile Records

Definition and Importance

Juvenile records refer to the criminal history of an individual who has committed offenses under 18. These records are crucial in determining the consequences that a minor might face upon reaching adulthood, depending on the severity of the offenses and the legal implications. Understanding the importance of juvenile records can help you navigate and plan for your future, especially in areas like education, housing, and employment.

Difference Between Juvenile and Adult Records

There are some key distinctions between juvenile and adult criminal records:

  • Confidentiality: Juvenile records are often more private than adult records, with limited access to the public. However, certain organizations and agencies may still have access to these records under specific circumstances.
  • Expungement: When you turn 18, some states may seal your juvenile record, making it less accessible to others. The process of expunging or sealing a juvenile record can vary depending on the state’s laws and the nature of the offense.
  • Treatment: The juvenile justice system prioritizes rehabilitation and providing support to help young offenders better reintegrate into society. This differs from the adult criminal system, which often focuses more on punishment and incarceration.

It is important to remember that turning 18 doesn’t automatically erase a juvenile felony from your record. However, depending on the state and the specifics of your case, there may still be opportunities to have your juvenile record expunged or sealed to minimize its impact on your future.

Remember the importance of understanding juvenile records and the differences between juvenile and adult criminal records. Awareness of these nuances can help you make informed decisions and protect your future.

Felony as a Juvenile

Common Juvenile Offenses

As a juvenile, making a mistake in life can sometimes lead to severe consequences. Regarding criminal offenses, some common ones committed by minors include misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are less severe and include petty theft, trespassing, and vandalism. On the other hand, felonies are more serious crimes, such as murder, aggravated assault, robbery, and drug trafficking.

Consequences of a Felony

When a minor commits a felony, they may face long-lasting consequences. Felonies often come with harsher punishments, such as being placed in a juvenile detention center or even being tried as an adult, depending on the crime’s severity and the offender’s age.

Moreover, a felony conviction on your juvenile record may not automatically go away when you turn 18. Juvenile records can still impact your life in various ways as an adult:

  • Difficulty in finding employment due to background checks
  • Ineligibility for certain professional licenses
  • Struggles with securing housing as landlords may run background checks
  • Trouble getting accepted into colleges that require criminal record disclosures

It’s essential to understand that having a felony on your juvenile record can significantly impact your future, even after becoming an adult. However, depending on your jurisdiction and specific circumstances, you might be eligible to have your record sealed or expunged, making it unavailable to the public and potential employers, landlords, or educational institutions.

Remember, a felony as a juvenile is a serious matter, and it’s crucial to seek professional help when navigating the legal system and exploring the potential options available to mitigate the long-term consequences.

Juvenile Records Post 18

State Laws on Juvenile Records

Each state has its laws regarding juvenile records. Some states may automatically expunge, seal, or maintain confidentiality of juvenile records when youth turn 18. However, this is not always the case, and you should know your state’s specific regulations. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with your state’s laws on how criminal records for minors are handled once they reach adulthood.

Does a Felony Go Away?

Felony convictions committed as a minor don’t automatically disappear when you turn 18. In some instances, you may be able to petition for expungement or sealing of your juvenile records once you reach 18 or after a specific waiting period. Remember that the process, eligibility criteria, and outcomes vary widely from state to state.

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • State laws differ regarding juvenile records and adult criminal records.
  • Automatic expungement is not guaranteed.
  • A felony committed as a minor may still impact your life as an adult.
  • Research your state’s laws and consult a legal professional for personalized advice.

Expungement of Juvenile Records

Eligibility for Expungement

To get a felony as a minor expunged, you need to meet certain eligibility requirements. Expungement means that your juvenile record becomes unavailable to the public, including potential landlords, employers, colleges, and licensing agencies that conduct criminal background checks. Remember that laws vary depending on the jurisdiction, so checking your state’s specific regulations is important.

In general, factors that determine eligibility for expungement include:

  • Age: You may need to be certain or wait a specific period after turning 18 before applying for expungement.
  • Type of offense: Some states may only allow the expungement of certain offenses, such as non-violent crimes.
  • Successful completion of court-ordered programs or probation.

Expungement Process

To ensure a successful expungement process, follow these steps:

  1. Determine your eligibility: As previously mentioned, eligibility for expungement depends on various factors. Check your state’s laws to determine if you fit the criteria.
  2. Gather documentation: Collect relevant documents, such as court records, proof of rehabilitation, or discharge papers from probation or court-ordered programs. You may need these documents for your application.
  3. Submit your application: Your state may have specific application forms and processes to request the expungement of your juvenile record. Be sure to accurately fill out the required forms and submit them, along with any necessary documentation, to the appropriate court.
  4. Pay any required fees: Some states may require a fee for processing your expungement application. Be prepared to pay this fee, if applicable.
  5. Attend any court hearings (if applicable): Depending on your state’s laws and the nature of your case, there may be a court hearing for your expungement request. Attend this hearing if required and present your case for expungement.

Remember, the laws and processes for expungement vary from state to state, so it’s crucial to research the specific rules and procedures in your jurisdiction. By understanding the eligibility requirements and following the expungement process, you can increase your chances of successfully sealing your juvenile record and moving forward with a clean slate.

Implications of Juvenile Records on Future Prospects

Impact on Education

A juvenile felony can affect your education prospects. When applying to colleges, having a juvenile record can potentially hinder your chances of acceptance. Some colleges may require you to disclose your past offenses, impacting their decision to admit you. In addition, you might face challenges in obtaining financial aid, as some scholarships or grants may have restrictions related to criminal records.

Impact on Employment

Your job prospects can also be affected by having a juvenile felony record. Many employers perform background checks on potential employees, and a criminal record might discourage them from hiring you. Although some states have restrictions on inquiring about juvenile records during the hiring process, it’s important to know that your record could still impact your employment opportunities.

  • Be proactive: If you’re eligible, it’s a good idea to have your juvenile record expunged (sealed or destroyed). This can help prevent negative consequences in your professional life.
  • Know your rights: Familiarize yourself with the laws in your state regarding the disclosure of juvenile records to potential employers. This knowledge can help you better navigate the job market.

Impact on Joining Military

A juvenile record can also influence your eligibility to join the military. The armed forces have strict regulations on accepting applicants with criminal records, including juvenile felonies. However, each military branch has a waiver process that allows individuals with certain past offenses to apply.

  • Research the waiver process: Understand the specific requirements for each military branch and the possibility of obtaining a waiver for your particular circumstances.
  • Document evidence of rehabilitation: Gather supporting materials, such as recommendations from teachers, counselors, and community members, to demonstrate your growth and rehabilitation since the offense.

In conclusion, having a juvenile felony on your record can significantly impact your education, employment, and military prospects. It’s crucial to be proactive in addressing and minimizing the potential consequences of a juvenile felony to help ensure a brighter future.

Seeking Legal Help

Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney

When you’re facing charges for a felony committed as a minor, it’s crucial to seek legal help from a criminal defense attorney. These lawyers specialize in understanding juvenile record expungement and the legal system’s treatment of minors. They can guide you through potentially sealing or expunging your record if the state laws permit.

A criminal defense attorney will carefully review your case, analyze the circumstances, and determine the best approach to minimize the negative consequences. Remember, a felony conviction can follow you into adulthood and impact your opportunities in education and employment. Having an experienced professional by your side is essential to protect your rights and help you navigate the complex legal system.

Free Consultations and Law Firms

Many criminal defense lawyers and law firms offer free consultations to discuss your case and explore your options. Don’t hesitate to contact them; this preliminary meeting can help you better understand your situation and possible outcomes. Bring any relevant paperwork and documentation to your consultation, as it will help the attorney assess your case and advise you accordingly.

During a free consultation, you can ask questions about the lawyer’s experience, success rate, fees, and what kind of strategy they would implement for your situation. Take your time to choose a reputable and experienced criminal defense attorney, as their knowledge and skill can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

To summarize, seeking qualified legal help can be the crucial stepping stone in dealing with a felony charge as a minor. A skilled criminal defense attorney will prioritize your best interests while working diligently to minimize the potential lasting effects of your juvenile record.

Juvenile Offenders in Different States

Regarding juvenile offenders, laws can vary depending on the state. In this section, we’ll focus on California as a case study to understand how a felony committed as a minor might affect one’s records after turning 18.

Case Study: California

In California, when a person under 18 commits a crime, they are typically regarded as a juvenile offender. You should know that the age of majority in California is 18, which means anyone below that age is considered a minor. However, in some cases, if the crime is serious enough, the juvenile can be tried as an adult.

Now, when it comes to juvenile records in California, there’s some good news. Many juvenile records can be sealed, which means they would not be accessible to the public or show up on background checks. To be eligible for record sealing, the juvenile must meet certain criteria, such as completing probation or rehabilitation programs.

Here’s a quick breakdown of some key factors in California’s approach to juvenile records:

  • Age of majority: 18
  • Sealing juvenile records: Possible, with conditions
  • Juvenile crimes tried as adults: In some cases, depending on the severity of the crime.

It’s important to know your state’s specific laws and processes regarding juvenile offenders and record expungement. This information is crucial in understanding if a felony committed as a minor would go away after turning 18.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do juvenile felonies get sealed at 18 in different states?

Juvenile felony records can be sealed in many states once the offender turns 18, but this process is not automatic. You need to petition the court for record sealing, and the eligibility criteria might vary from state to state. It is important to consult with an attorney or probation officer to learn about juvenile record sealing laws in your state.

Does your criminal record clear when you turn 18 after a felony?

Your criminal record does not automatically clear when you turn 18 after a felony. However, depending on your state’s laws and circumstances, you may be eligible for record sealing or expungement. Sealing or expunging your record can prevent your juvenile felony from being publicly accessible, making it easier to find jobs, housing, and educational opportunities.

Which states have laws to automatically seal juvenile records?

Some states have laws that automatically seal certain juvenile records once the offender reaches a specified age or time without additional criminal activity. It’s important to research the laws in your state, as automatic sealing may have specific eligibility requirements and other conditions that apply.

What happens to a juvenile felony record when the offender turns 18?

When juvenile offenders turn 18, their felony record does not automatically disappear. However, they can be eligible for record sealing or expungement based on the state’s laws. You must follow the appropriate legal process for sealing or expungement in your state. This may include completing any probation or rehabilitation programs, paying restitution, demonstrating personal growth, and indicating that you are no longer a risk to public safety.

Can a juvenile felony record be expunged or sealed?

Yes, a juvenile felony record can often be expunged or sealed, depending on your state’s laws and the circumstances surrounding your case. Expungement refers to removing the record from public view entirely, while record sealing makes the record inaccessible to the public without a court order. Both processes help to protect your privacy and future opportunities.

Are juvenile felony records ever accessible to the public?

While juvenile records are typically more difficult for the public to access than adult records, they may still be accessible in some circumstances. If your juvenile felony record has not been sealed or expunged, certain employers, educational institutions, or government agencies may be able to view it. Understanding your state’s laws and taking appropriate steps to seal or expunge your record, if eligible, to limit access and protect your prospects is essential.