When a juvenile is arrested in Indiana, the potential consequences are extensive. This is true whether the charges are relatively minor like shoplifting or underage drinking and major like gun crimes, distributing drugs and violence. Since they are juveniles, there is a greater reliance on rehabilitation than punishment.
Despite that, a criminal past can be problematic even for those who committed the crimes when they were younger than 18. In these instances, an expungement can be extraordinarily useful for their future. Knowing the options with expungements and how to receive one is key.
Know the facts about expungements
Some might be under the impression that any juvenile crimes they committed will be expunged when they reach legal adulthood at 18. That is not the case. The person must formally request that their records be expunged. With an expungement, the records will either be sealed or permanently destroyed.
A sealed record cannot be seen by the public, but the record still exists and is retained by the court. As the word implies, destroyed records are gone forever. The decision whether the seal or destroy the records is at the discretion of a judge.
Many juveniles who are arrested do not go through the typical steps in a case. They could avoid court entirely, be allowed to take part in a diversion program or have the charges dismissed. In some instances, they went to trial and won the case. These records can be sealed, but it will take a year before the request to do so can be made.
The judge can allow for records to be destroyed. Even if the juvenile was given probation or did time at the Department of Correction, it is possible. The judge reviews the records as part of the process. They might want to discuss the case with the juvenile personally.
The judge will want to know about the case, its circumstances, the juvenile’s behavior after the case, if there were other criminal charges and how they are currently faring. It can help to get references from people in the juvenile’s life. They can also bring school information, work history and other positive attributes that shows they are deserving of having the records destroyed.
Expungements for juvenile crimes can be essential for a positive future
Juveniles are prone to making mistakes and that includes getting in trouble with the law. When there is an arrest for any reason, it is imperative to know the value of a strong criminal defense. Some young people are automatically pigeonholed in a negative context when they might have simply made a mistake, been in the wrong place at the wrong time or not done anything illegal at all.
After the case is over, that does not automatically mean the juvenile case will not cause them challenges as they strive to move forward in life with higher education, seeking employment or entering the military. An expungement can be helpful to clear the record. Knowing how to go about getting one is the first step.