A juvenile record is a permanent record that can be accessed by any agency or interested parties that has “legitimate interest” in the record. For many youths who have come into contact with the juvenile justice system, having a public criminal record can result in significant obstacles in obtaining financial aid, housing, employment and licensing opportunities, educational opportunities, and public benefits.
If you were charged with a crime before you turned 17 years of age, you have a Juvenile Record. Juvenile Records are, by law, non-public. Unfortunately, that does NOT mean that your juvenile record cannot hurt you. Many public data websites now exist due to the rising prevalence of the internet and the widespread dissemination of information. Hardly any of the individuals who are in charge of maintaining accurate records for these entities know, much less even care, about the confidentiality laws that protect juvenile records. As these internet businesses continue to come and go, your juvenile record will be even more readily accessible.
Even Juvenile Records that are kept confidential can still cause a problem for adults with Juvenile issues in their background. Juvenile records are only kept confidential from the general public. The government, and most all of governmental entities for that matter, still have access to Juvenile Records. The problem can be very problematic for those wishing to pursue a career in the military. However, the problems that can arise can extend well beyond military service.
Attorneys, Teachers, Doctors, Nurses, Doctors, Plumbers, CPA's, and virtually any other profession that requires a state license could view the Juvenile criminal history and it may have negative repercussions. State Licensing Boards are Governmental entities and, as such, have access to Juvenile Records. Many individuals seeking a professional license can be denied to practice solely based on Juvenile Record history that may reflect poorly during the application process. Likewise, many jobs require bonding or security clearances to be able to legally provide a specific type of service. A Juvenile Record can very easily prevent one from being able to procure a job where employment is dependent on successfully passing a security clearance.
THE SEALING OF JUVENILE RECORDS IN TEXAS LAW
Section 58.003 of the Texas Family Code outlines the procedure with which one may be able to apply to have Juvenile Records sealed, and therefore removed from all criminal history databases. A person may possibly have their Juvenile record sealed if the following requirements are met:
- It has been two years since you were discharged;
-You did not receive a determinate sentence in a Juvenile penitentiary;
-You are not currently registered as a sex offender
-You were not tried as an adult;
-There are no pending proceedings against you;
- Since your discharge, you have not been convicted of a felony, a misdemeanor of moral turpitude, or been adjudicated of delinquent conduct.
If there was no adjudication, the two-year waiting period is waived and you can apply to have your record sealed immediately. Moreover, if you were adjudicated as having engaged in felony level conduct your records will only be sealed if you are 19, and were not transferred from a Juvenile court to a criminal court for prosecution, the records have not been used in the punishment phase of a criminal proceeding, and that you have not been convicted of felony-level conduct since turning 17. Also, if you have successfully completed a court-ordered drug program you will be eligible for the sealing of the record for the related offense.
WHEN CAN MY CHILD’ S JUVENILE RECORD BE SEALED?
If your child was not found guilty or the charges were dismissed, a Juvenile Record can be sealed. If your child’s offense was a misdemeanor, a Juvenile Record must be sealed, pending a two-year restriction. If your child’s offense was a felony, a Juvenile Record may be sealed, pending a two-year restriction. If your child has successfully completed a drug court process.
WHEN CAN’T MY CHILD’S JUVENILE RECORD BE SEALED?
If your child has received a determinate sentence for a felony. If your child committed a felony and the case began in juvenile court but was later transferred to adult court. If your child has engaged in habitual felony conduct, resulting in a determinate sentence. If your child has been required to register and report to the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program.
Texas Family Code Sec. 58.003. Sealing Of Juvenile Records:
Notwithstanding Subsections (a) and (c) and subject to Subsection (b), a juvenile court, on the court's own motion and without a hearing, shall order the sealing of records concerning a child found to have engaged in conduct indicating a need for supervision described by Section 51.03(b)(5) or taken into custody to determine whether the child engaged in conduct indicating a need for supervision described by Section 51.03(b)(5). This subsection applies only to records related to conduct indicating a need for supervision described by Section 51.03(b)(5).