How do you keep a juvenile offense from ruining the future?

Anyone who pleads guilty to a criminal charge or winds up convicted in court has to deal with the consequences of a criminal record. Although at first glance, criminal records may seem like a minor inconvenience, in reality, it may infringe on someone's freedoms or personal advancement for many years to come. Everything from schooling to jobs becomes complicated when you have a criminal record.

If you have a criminal record related to a juvenile offense or if you are responsible for someone with a juvenile record, you likely have an interest in minimizing how long that record remains public. Thankfully, there are potential options for those in Minnesota with a juvenile record who want to move forward with their lives.

Minnesota already does what it can to protect juvenile offenders

Those who end up in legal trouble before the age of 18 receive special consideration under Minnesota law. In most cases, the records related to minor criminal offenses, particularly those committed by offenders under the age of 16, automatically get sealed to protect the minors involved.

However, if the offense would have been a felony offense for an adult and the accused was 16 or older at the time of the alleged crime, the criminal record will remain public. In that situation, the youthful offender or their loved ones will want to consider whether an expungement is the right idea.

It is possible to petition for an expungement

Most expungement cases require specific qualifications. An individual can request an expungement if the courts dismiss their charges or if the courts find them not guilty. However, even if you got convicted or plead guilty, you can still petition the courts to review your record and potentially expunge it.

In that situation, the courts will look at your current situation and address whether there have been problems with recidivism or ongoing criminal activity. Cases where it is clear an individual has learned from their mistakes, such as those where someone fulfilled all obligations under their juvenile conviction and then avoided future issues, typically have the best potential for success.

The courts may choose to seal that individual's record as a way of allowing them to move forward with their life, whether they want to go back to school or get a better job.

Arrest records are separate from conviction records

While it is the police who arrest you and maintain records of that interaction, the courts retain records of your trial and any criminal consequences you face after an arrest. Your arrest record will typically no longer be publicly accessible within 10 years of the date of your arrest if you don't have any further criminal interaction with law enforcement. You usually do not need to request an expungement for an arrest record, as this process happens automatically.

Expungements can be incredibly beneficial, as they protect you from endlessly paying the price for a mistake that happened many years ago. Juvenile offenders who do not have any criminal issues in the years after their youthful offense may benefit from having the courts take action about the outstanding criminal record.

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