Bill France was right in his Dec. 27 column on juvenile justice – parents do not understand the juvenile justice system. Unfortunately, like most people, he is either unaware or ignores the serious consequences persons with juvenile criminal history face.
Despite what most people believe, juvenile criminal history does not “go away” when a person turns 18. Juvenile criminal history remains on a person’s criminal history after they turn 18 and it is fully accessible to the public through criminal background checks, at the courthouse and over the Internet. Juvenile criminal history remains on a person’s record until the person who is the subject of the record files a motion to seal the record in juvenile court after staying crime-free for a period of time (three to five years depending upon the charge.) Juvenile convictions for Class A felonies and sex offenses can never be sealed and can impact a young person for the rest of his or her life.
Juvenile criminal history is accessible to employers, landlords, colleges, military recruiters and the general public. Juvenile criminal history is used to deny people jobs, apartments, admission to college programs, licenses (e.g. childcare, nursing, dental assistants, etc.), public housing and entry to the military. All of these consequences continue to flow after a young person turns 18. Juveniles convicted of sex offenses are required to register as sex offenders just like adults, regardless of their age at the time of the offense. Juvenile convictions carry many of the same “collateral consequences” that follow adult convictions.
Maybe that’s why attorney Michael Andrews believes that parents should be concerned.
For information about how to seal a juvenile record in Washington go to www.washingtonlawhelp.org and search “juvenile records.”
UW School of Law
Children and Youth Advocacy Clinic