Must a juvenile disclose sealed records to a school or job?
UPDATED: February 20, 2013
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A juvenile is not required to disclose sealed juvenile records to a school or employer. Disclosing sealed records is not a good idea because a school or employer could allow the records to become available to other parties. This could negatively affect an individual's academic and work opportunities. Disclosing sealed juvenile records could also affect the individual's driving privileges, credit history, and insurance rates.
Some states, such as Texas, may provide juvenile records to schools or employers upon request. A state may give an individual's juvenile records to employers, schools, licensing agencies, and entities that would provide the individual with employment or educational opportunities. This does mean that the individual has to make his or her juvenile records available to a requesting party.
State laws determine whether a juvenile may move to have their records sealed. Generally, a juvenile must have paid off all of their costs to the court and served out their term of detention and/or probation. They are also required to not be accused of committing a new offense for a certain number of years. A juvenile may move to have their records sealed a set number of years after they have been sentenced, or when they have reached the age of majority. In many states, this age is 18 years old. Typically, a juvenile must petition the juvenile court to seal their juvenile records. In many states, the act of sealing is not automatically granted. The juvenile court considers a number of factors in determining whether to seal a juvenile's records.
Who Is Allowed to See Sealed Juvenile Records?
Sealed juvenile records are not sealed in all respects. In most states, sealed juvenile records are available to one or more of the following parties: judges, law enforcement officers, district attorneys, and probation or correctional officers.
Sealed juvenile records may also be open to employees of criminal justice and juvenile justice systems in the state in which the juvenile faced charges. Sealed juvenile records may be made available to employees of similar agencies in other states. A state may provide qualified substance abuse treatment or psychological counselors who request certain files in sealed juvenile records with documents that relate to counseling and treatment.
Juvenile Delinquency Offenses
Even if an individual does not move to have their juvenile records sealed, they can truthfully answer “no” if they are asked whether they have been convicted of a crime. This is because a delinquent act is a civil offense. An finding of delinquency in juvenile delinquency court is not a finding of guilt in criminal court. If a juvenile was tried and convicted as an adult in criminal court, they cannot answer “no” to a question regarding a criminal record.