Computer access to most juvenile criminal records taken offline

Last year, there were 2,500 felony charges filed against 16 and 17-year-olds in the state of Minnesota. Of those, 770 stemmed from Hennepin County. 

What many juveniles -- and their families -- may not realize at the time is that these criminal charges could come back to haunt them later on in life when attempting to find a job, rent an apartment or go to college. 

For four years, advocates worked to reach a compromise with legislators to seal the electronic records of juveniles. The idea was that these computer accessible juvenile criminal records were creating roadblocks to employment that increased the chances of going back out and committing crimes. 

This is why starting on Jan. 1 juvenile criminal records will only be available in paper format. This means potential employers and landlords will no longer be able to access records online, where most only find the arrest and initial charges, but do not review the outcome of the case. Rather, potential employers and landlords will have to go down to the courthouse to access these records. 

However, while this is all positive, those records for juveniles charged with violent crimes or those charged as adults will still be computer accessible, as will those with a potential adult sentence still over their heads. Those wishing to work with children will also still need computer background checks.

Overall, what this goes to show is that juvenile crimes can continue to impact a person into their adulthood. This is why it is important to really understand the consequences of a conviction and to work with a criminal defense attorney in order to reach the best possible outcome. 

Source: StarTribune, "Juvenile records will soon become more difficult for the public to view," David Chanen, July 10, 2013

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