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Record sealing: giving juveniles a second chance

Juveniles are not adults.

And those of us who have been around the veritable block of life a time or two absolutely know that. As parents, older siblings, teachers, mentors and other individuals who regularly deal with and closely relate to children, we readily appreciate that they process information and often respond to life's varied situations far differently than do adults.

And that can occasionally get them into trouble, owing to ill-advised behaviors and lapses in good judgment.

Authorities in the criminal justice system -- and experienced criminal defense attorneys, to be sure -- know at an immediate and deep level that a so-called bright line must often separate criminal law policies and repercussions facing adult and juvenile offenders, respectively.

For the latter, rehabilitation -- not punishment and a lifelong criminal record that erodes future potential and possibilities -- is often the core focus in penal outcomes.

And that is the reason for an emphasis on juvenile criminal record sealing, a process that in select cases can permanently erase a minor's formal log of criminal activity engaged in prior to his or her reaching the age of majority.

Sealing can be critically important to the life of a young person who has simply made a mistake and thereafter reasonably demonstrated -- through satisfaction of probationary conditions, completion of mandated programs and so forth -- a desire to steer crime of crime in the future.

As noted by a California probation official in an article discussing fresh starts for young offenders, "Sealing juvenile records gives [juveniles with a criminal history] a second chance at starting over."

That can obviously be of highest importance. Questions regarding juvenile record sealing can be directed to a seasoned defense attorney who routinely represents young people charged with criminal offenses.

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