What Is The Impact Of A Juvenile Record?

  • Did you know that the United States doesn't have a national standard for juvenile records? This means that each state handles the disposal, storage, or use of juvenile records in a different manner. In fact, according to the Juvenile Law Center, a national public-interest law firm that focuses on child welfare, none of the states have received a five-star rating. This means that all states have fluctuations and weaknesses when it comes to the availability, sealing, confidentiality, and expungement of juvenile records. For anyone convicted of a juvenile offense, the treatment of their record is incredibly important to the opportunities they will have in life.

    What Happens To Juvenile Records? 

    Each state treats juvenile records differently. If your loved ones live in a state where juvenile records aren't expunged or treated with confidentiality, then they could be faced with potentially huge barriers when they leave a juvenile detention center. These barriers can, unfortunately, exist for life. In fact, juvenile records have been shown to have a direct impact on graduation rates, employment opportunities, acceptance into college, and even public housing. If you have a loved one who has a juvenile record or has recently been arrested, then it is important that you consult with a criminal defense attorney regarding their future, as well as the treatment of their juvenile record.

    What Are The Negative Impacts Of Juvenile Records?

    Almost every employer will conduct a criminal background check during the hiring process. In some states, juvenile records will appear on these background checks, which means that young people are at risk of missing many employment opportunities. In many of these checks, the juvenile record will still be flagged, even if it was given for a simple misdemeanor or non-violent crime. Since work experience is essential to becoming an active member of society, as well as maintaining housing, health, and other essential life factors, juvenile records can have an incredibly negative impact throughout life.

    Another negative impact of juvenile records occurs when they are left unsealed. If a record is unsealed, then anyone can have access to the criminal, as well as the personal and mental health information (if applicable). Records that are left unsealed do not give youth a second chance at life. A lack of a second chance can be particularly debilitating to youths from at-risk or disadvantaged backgrounds. In fact, unsealed records are one of the reasons that at-risk youth are more likely to commit another crime, especially in cases where unsealed records are the reason for a lack of employment or housing.

    The Bottom Line: Juvenile Records Need To Be Handled Properly To Give Youth A Second Chance

    With all of these negative impacts in mind, youths with juvenile records should be given the chance to re-enter their communities as active and productive participants. This means that the records need to be treated with care and confidentiality to ensure that the barriers to education, housing, and employment are removed. Additionally, if mass incarceration is to be improved, then youth offenders need to have the previously mentioned barriers removed.

    The confidentiality of records, the automatic expungement, and / or the ability to seal juvenile records is one step that can be taken nationwide to ensure that youths have the opportunity to successfully re-enter society. By removing the harsh policies of many states, youths can be given a second chance. If a youth is arrested, the first step should be to contact a criminal defense attorney. A trusted criminal defense attorney will be able to take the actions needed to begin removing the barriers that could impact the youth later on in life and thus put him on the path toward successfully rejoining society.