Popular culture, including movies and television shows, commonly depicts juvenile crimes as isolated incidents that have little or no impact on the offender's adult life. In the world of scripted drama, juvenile records seem to magically disappear once the defendant turns 18, never to be seen or heard from again. In the real world, though, those childhood crimes can - and do - come back to haunt juvenile offenders.
A recent report by the Palm Beach Post sheds light on the ramifications of having a juvenile criminal record by telling the story of several young adults who have long since passed the age of majority but are still feeling the effects of youthful indiscretions. The story of a 29-year-old law school graduate is especially telling: a burglary at the age of 17 - for which she was tried as an adult - has nearly undone the years of effort she has put into getting her life back on track. She has been denied housing and career opportunities because of her checkered past even though she is now an upstanding citizen.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement gives hope to those who were convicted of crimes as a juvenile, though. Juveniles who successfully complete a diversion program following an arrest or conviction will usually be eligible for an expunction under Florida Statutes § 943.0582. If the exacting standards set forth in the law are met and an expunction is granted, this process makes it seem, for most intents and purposes, that the filer never had a criminal record. Only law enforcement agencies have access to expunged records, so that means that housing, career and educational opportunities will no longer be in jeopardy.
Juveniles who didn't complete a diversion program still have a legal remedy available: there is a general expungement statute for all qualifying offenders to have their records cleared at either age 24 or 26 (depending upon the offense).
Having a juvenile criminal record is serious, and it can have a huge impact on a person's adult life. The best way to ensure that your son or daughter's criminal record stays clear is to aggressively fight against charges in the first place; call a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.