What you should know about expunging juvenile records

Juvenile offenses and the juvenile justice system - that is, crimes and the legal system for minors under the age of 18 - do not function in the same way as the adult court system. There are different laws governing these offenses and courts that do not correspond to the way adult crimes make their way through the system.

Here is some information about how the sealing or expunging of juvenile criminal records works.

Expungement of juvenile records does not happen automatically

The State of Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice explains that, in certain instances, people who are at least 17 years old may petition the court to have their records expunged. This means that the Office of Juvenile Justice must remove or destroy all records that refer to the petition, judgment or disposition.

If the case did not go to court, the juvenile may have the record expunged. An offense that results in a misdemeanor may be eligible, but not until two years after the offender completes the penalties from the judgment. Some felonies may also be eligible, although not in these cases:

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Kidnapping
  • Armed robbery
  • Sex crimes

For those offenses that do qualify, the offender may not apply for expungement of a felony until five years after satisfying the judgment, and there must be no felony or misdemeanor convictions in the adult system.

Failing to seal juvenile records can carry long-term consequences

Many juveniles are not aware that their juvenile criminal record can have long-term consequences on their future. This is why expungement and sealing the records is important. A system that focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment is a positive option for juveniles who have criminal records. A qualified juvenile attorney can help with a strategy that minimizes penalties in order to give young people the best possible chance for moving forward to afford them positive opportunities and a bright future.

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