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Legislation proposed concerning sealing of juvenile records

One of the many goals of the juvenile justice system is to reduce recidivism concerning alleged youthful offenders. Many mistakes that juveniles make come about because of immaturity, inexperience or an adolescent brain that has not fully developed and makes the young person prone to risk-taking behavior.

If we can place distance from the last offense, there is a much greater chance that the young person will not again be in trouble with the law. Unfortunately, it's difficult to create this distance when the young person's criminal record is made available for everyone to see.

Legislation has recently been proposed by a California state senator that would allow these records to be sealed if the young person is deemed reformed. Determining whether they would be reformed would be based upon completion of a series of requirements. However, the bill would only apply for offenses already considered sealable and would exclude felonies that were supposedly committed when the young person is 14 or older.

Another reason why sealing of the records is so vital is because it will provide the young person a greater chance of becoming employed. Employers are not allowed to inquire concerning criminal matters that were dismissed, sealed or expunged.

As attorneys representing young people in front of the juvenile justice system, we understand that representation includes much more than simply defending the young person in court. It can also mean getting these young individuals in touch with the care and resources that they need. This includes making certain the young person can finish up with their schooling and not end up in front of the courts again in the future.

Source: Public CEO, "Leaving the Past Behind: Sealing Juvenile Records," Antonia Cartwright, May 7, 2014

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