Will My Child Have a Criminal Record?
Jersey City & Freehold Attorneys serving Essex, Hudson, Monmouth County, and Nearby NJ Areas
Since juveniles are not convicted of crimes in New Jersey, but instead are adjudicated as delinquent, your child will not have a criminal record. But many families hold the mistaken belief that juvenile records are automatically sealed once the child turns 18.
Juvenile records are “strictly safeguarded” and not available for public inspection. There are a few exceptions, though they include limitations on what information can be released. Any potential party involved in a civil action for damages from an act of delinquency may access official court documents, but other records will not be available. A number of state agencies also have access to juvenile records. This includes any court or probation division, the Department of Human Services or Department of Children and Families, if providing care or custody to a juvenile, the Juvenile Justice Commission and law enforcement.
What Information Is in Juvenile Records?
The records contain official court documents such as complaints, pleadings and orders; information pertaining to pretrial matters; and the juvenile’s arrest, disposition, and probation status. The record may also have statements made by the juvenile and reports relating to mental health services provided to the juvenile before adjudication.
Public disclosure of these records is generally not permitted, unless the offense would constitute aggravated assault, high amounts of property damage, or a crime in the first, second, or third degree if committed by an adult (though a juvenile can prevent disclosure by showing that it would result in specific and extraordinary harm.)
Can a School Request Juvenile Records?
The principal of a juvenile’s school may also request relevant information regarding a child’s identity, offense, and disposition, though this is confidential. But if the offense occurred on school property or if the child was taken into custody due to information from school officials, then law enforcement may advise the principal of the juvenile’s school about the charges. The police or prosecuting agency may also contact the principal of the juveniles school if the offense resulted in death or serious bodily injury, involved the use of a firearm, involved the sale of a controlled substance, or amounted to a hate crime.
Can a Juvenile Record Be Sealed or Expunged?
Juveniles can request to seal their arrest and court records if they show a period of good behavior or enlist in the military. A record sealing order will prohibit disclosure of social, medical, psychological, legal and other records of the court and probation services, and records of law enforcement agencies. But in order for the court to grant such an order, the juvenile must show that:
- Two years have elapsed since the final discharge from custody or supervision, or any other court order not involving custody or supervision
- The juvenile has not been convicted of nor has any pending juvenile or criminal charges
Once the juvenile’s records are sealed, all index references will read “not available” or “no record.” Upon inquiry, all law enforcement offices and departments may respond that there is no record with respect to such person. But any subsequent adjudication of delinquency or conviction by the individual nullifies any prior sealing order. Sealed juvenile records are only maintained for the purposes of prior offender status, identification, and law enforcement.
An individual may present a petition for expungement of arrest and court records after ten years have elapsed provided they have not been adjudicated delinquent or convicted of any prior or subsequent crime. Once juvenile records are expunged, all information pertaining to the arrest, adjudication, or any related proceedings is considered to never have occurred.
Schedule Your Free Consultation With an Aggressive and Experienced Juvenile Defense Attorney
Children in juvenile court matters have many of the same rights as adults, including the right to remain silent, the right to cross-examine witnesses, and the right to an attorney. It is important to understand the full extent of your rights while under investigation and before entering court. Our attorneys will take the time to review your rights and options and aggressively assert your rights at every stage in the juvenile criminal process. Where available or when necessary, we will seek rehabilitation over incarceration for any minor.
To learn more about juvenile offenses and how they may affect your child, please contact Clark & Clark online or call 732-303-7857 today for a free case review.
We are experienced in the defense of juvenile crimes, including: