Most of us went through at least one period during our younger days when we acted out and caused trouble. Usually, a stern talk or a punishment from our parents or guardians is enough to set us straight, but sometimes things can escalate, and a minor can be arrested and face serious potential penalties in the juvenile justice system. Luckily, however, records related to juvenile arrested, citations, and other dispositions are not accessible by the general public. Furthermore, by getting the records sealed or expunged, you can make it so even fewer people will ever be able to see it, even under extreme circumstances. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our skilled expungement lawyer in Maryland has years of experience working with folks who have a juvenile record to make it so it is as hidden as possible and will not impact your life and your future. Below, we explain how juvenile criminal records differ from adult records, who can see a sealed or expunged juvenile record, and how we can help you get the record sealed or expunged.
In the state of Maryland, the juvenile justice system functions as an entirely separate entity from the regular, adult justice system. In limited situations for very serious crimes and if the juvenile is of a certain age, they can be charged as an adult, and the matter will be handled in adult court. Otherwise, there is no conviction of a crime in juvenile cases. Instead, they are said to be “adjudicated delinquent” if the judge finds the charges against them to be true, and their penalties and punishments are referred to as the “disposition” rather than a “sentence.”
Because of the differences in the juvenile justice system, juvenile disposition records are far less accessible by the general public than adult criminal records. For example, juvenile charges will not appear on a standard pre-employment background check. However, if it has not been sealed or expunged, the record can be accessed by the police, prosecutors, Department of Juvenile Services case managers, judges, and juvenile court employees, as well as some others, including your school, at the judge’s discretion. These records will also be accessible to military recruiters if you apply to serve in one of the branches of the Armed Forces. Colleges and trade schools are permitted to ask you about juvenile adjudications that have not been sealed or expunged. However, pay attention to the way the question is asked: you only need to disclose if it specifically asks about adjudications, not if it asks about convictions. If you have questions about what you should and should not disclose on such an application, reach out to our team.
Before we turn to the possibility of expungement, there is a special process for juvenile cases called sealing that you also may want to consider because it is simpler than expungement. If you petition the court to seal your juvenile criminal record and the petition is granted, then very few people, not even prosecutors, will be allowed to look at your record without a special court order. The sealing process can be complicated and time consuming, so while you are not required to have an experienced Maryland juvenile defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice assist you with the process, it is highly recommended that you do so.
The first thing we will do is help you to request an official copy of you record so that we can sure the information you recall is accurate. Our next steps will depend on whether or not you are 21 or older. If you are not 21 or older, we can file a petition with the court where the adjudication occurred. We will need to make an argument for “good cause” about why the judge should, in their discretion, grant the petition and seal the record. Such good cause could include the fact that your college applications will not require you to report this information if it is sealed, or the fact that you are applying for a state occupational license. If you are 21 or older, however, the petition is automatically granted by the court once it is filed properly and we do not need to show good cause.
Expungement is even more extreme than sealing in that expunged juvenile records will be either destroyed or set aside from all other records and removed from any computer databases. An expunged record affords you even more protections than a sealed one. If a juvenile matter has been expunged, you do not need to tell an employer, college, technical, or trade school about your record in interviews or on applications. You also do not have to disclose it on Maryland state applications for a license, permit, registration, or state employment.
In order to be permitted to petition for a juvenile expungement, all of the following must be true:
A skilled Maryland expungement lawyer can assess whether your juvenile charges qualify to be expunged, and, if so, can make the most persuasive argument to the judge for why your petition should be granted, as the matter is still up to the court’s discretion.
Juvenile records in general cannot be viewed by the public to the same degree as adult criminal records. However, if the record is sealed, or especially expunged, it can be viewed by even fewer people, and usually only after they have petitioned the court and shown good cause. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our skilled Maryland expungement lawyers have years of experience successfully petitioning to have our clients’ juvenile records sealed or expunged. Call us today at (410) 826-5656 for a free consultation.