Most of us make mistakes in our youth, but when they reach the level of interaction with law enforcement, especially through a citation or arrest, these mistakes can have long-term consequences. While juvenile criminal records are generally less accessible by the public, including potential employers, than adult criminal records, there are still situations where these records can be accessed, especially if they have not been expunged or sealed. If a school, employer, or someone else is granted access to the juvenile records by the court, it will almost certainly negatively impact your chance of getting the job, getting into college, or getting a professional license.
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our experienced Maryland expungement attorneys have years of experience successfully helping clients with juvenile criminal records get them sealed or expunged so that they are even less accessible than they already are. Below, we explain when employers and others may be able to see your juvenile criminal records in Maryland, and how we can help you get the record sealed or expunged to keep it as private as possible.
Most employers, whether public or private, will not be able to access your juvenile records if they run a background check on you. In fact, most employers will not ask about juvenile records. If an application asks about convictions, you do not need to disclose any juvenile adjudications, as they are not technically considered convictions. However, there are exceptions to this rule, including if you are applying to join the military or if you are applying for a state occupational license to become a barber, electrician, nurse, attorney, and many more positions. In these cases, you may be required to disclose juvenile records and the court may allow them to be accessed. Consult with an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney like those at our firm if you are unsure whether or not you must disclose your juvenile record to a potential employer.
While, as described above, juvenile records are far less accessible than adult records to begin with, there are ways to make them even more difficult to view. The first is the sealing process. If a juvenile record is sealed, this makes it all the more difficult for folks to access. For example, police, prosecutors, Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) case managers, judges, and juvenile court employees are all normally excepted from the rule that bars access to juvenile records. Once the matter has been sealed, however, even folks at these agencies cannot access the records without making a specific argument that there is good cause. Furthermore, sealing the record may prevent you from having to answer questions about the matter on job or school applications that ask specifically about adjudications, although, as noted previously, you should consult with a skilled Maryland defense attorney before making any decisions about what does and does not need to be disclosed.
There are two different, but similar, processes for petitioning the court to have juvenile records sealed. The first process is for those who are 21 or older. If you fall in this age group and submit a petition to have a juvenile disposition sealed, the court is required by law to grant it, and you will not have to show good cause. However, if you are under 21, you will have to show good cause to the court for the record to be sealed. This could be something like the fact that you are applying to colleges and do not wish to have to disclose the matter, which could potentially hurt your chances of getting into the school.
While sealing your juvenile record can certainly help limit the eyes that are permitted to view it, having it expunged actually results in the record either being destroyed or set aside from all other records and removed from any computer databases. Once your record is expunged, you do not need to tell an employer or college, technical, or trade school about your record in interviews or on applications, nor do you have to disclose it on Maryland state applications for a license, permit, registration, or state employment. It is essentially as close as you can get to your juvenile record being permanently destroyed. Unlike with sealing, however, you are only eligible for expungement if you meet a long list of conditions, and even then only if the judge believes you have shown good cause. For this reason, sealing may nonetheless be the better option in some cases.
Although you are technically permitted to petition for your juvenile records to be sealed or expunged without the help of a lawyer, this is never a good idea. Our skilled Maryland juvenile defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice can first and foremost help you acquire an official copy of your juvenile record in order to figure out whether you are eligible for a sealing or an expungement with regard to each offense. Then, we can file the petition or petitions with the necessary courts, because if you have multiple juvenile dispositions you will have to file a separate petition for each incident, and to file each in the court of original jurisdiction. Then, if necessary, we can appear in court on your behalf and argue why there is good cause for the petition to be granted and your sealing or expungement to go through.
Most times, employers will not be able to access your juvenile criminal record on a background check like they can with an adult criminal record in Maryland. However, there are quite a few important exceptions to this general rule, and only by sealing or expunging the offense can you rest assured that it is accessible to as few eyes as possible. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we have many years of experience successfully helping clients decide if they should petition for a sealing or an expungement of their juvenile record, and then guiding their cases to a successful resolution. Call us today at (410) 826-5656 for a free consultation.