Whether because of poor judgment, lack of guidance or simple inexperience, many people make mistakes in their youth that cause them embarrassment and regret for the rest of their lives. For some, these mistakes cross the line from mere recklessness to criminal behavior punishable by time in juvenile detention facilities and even jails and prisons, depending on the age of the offender. Prior to a recent state Superior Court case, the effects of such youthful brushes with the law were more long-lasting than many ever imagined.
Expungement opens closed doors
The case above involved a man who had been arrested several times as a minor and once at the age of 22 for burglary and receiving stolen property. After a rough start, he turned his life around and stayed on the straight-and-narrow with no subsequent arrests. Like many others with criminal convictions on their records, the man waited the requisite statutory period, 10 years in his case, and then sought to have his record expunged, a procedure in which the court extracts criminal records, leaving an individual’s record virtually spotless. Among other benefits, expungement prevents employers from seeing an applicant’s previous criminal record during routine background checks, which may weigh heavily on potential employers’ minds as they make critical hiring decisions.
Limitations on expungement
While expungement is a boon to eligible applicants, limits on the process bar certain individuals from obtaining it. In the aforementioned case, the lower court denied expungement because it held that the applicant’s juvenile misdeeds could have been classified as criminal offenses had he committed them as an adult. On appeal, the court disagreed and mandated that juvenile convictions should not in fact be treated as adult convictions for purposes of expungement. After 18 long years, the man was able to finally put the indiscretions of his youth behind him.
To assess your options, call one of Hoffman DiMuzio’s criminal defense lawyers for help beginning the expungement process today.