One focal point of our long-established criminal defense practice at the Bay Area Law Office of John W. Noonan stresses the diligent representation of young people accused of crimes.
It is often the case that unformed judgment and simple lack of maturity connected to life inexperience lead to careless actions that can have serious consequences for juveniles. Minors often do not appreciate the stark downsides that can attend behaviors frowned upon by law enforcers.
Those behaviors can be myriad and varied. We reference many of them on our website. They range widely from underage drinking-related charges and drug infractions to theft crimes and fighting.
The consequences of a criminal conviction – even an arrest and a criminal charge that is ultimately dropped – can be severe for a juvenile, even dramatically life-altering. Many young people who commit thoughtless indiscretions pay heavy fines, do community service, are suspended from school, and are even incarcerated.
And there’s this, too, as noted in a recent national article spotlighting one particular downside attached to juvenile crime in certain cases: denial of higher-education opportunities because of a criminal record.
We all know that such an outcome occurs, and likely in many instances. Just as a criminal history can cancel out opportunities for select job placements and military service, it can induce college officials to reach for a “reject” stamp when it surfaces in application materials.
One prominent college-linked organization duly recognizes that and has made a significant change to address it. Officials in charge of the so-called Common Application that is filled out millions of times annually by college applicants recently announced that they will no longer solicit criminal history information from prospective students.
Will that make a difference?
Many people of course hope that it will. The publication Atlantic notes that the new policy “could alter the life course for many students [having] a misdemeanor or felony attached to their name.”