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Juvenile Records – Who can see them? Should I Expunge them or Seal them?

Juvenile records are not criminal records, and juveniles do not receive criminal convictions. Rather, juveniles who break the law are referred to as “adjudicated delinquents.” In fact, when a person with only a juvenile record is asked whether he/she has been convicted of a crime, the legally correct answer is No.

Who can access Juvenile Records?
Since juvenile records are not public information, they are supposed to appear on most background checks. Until recently, however, BCI was reporting all juvenile adjudications that would have been a felony if committed by an adult. Under Senate Bill 337, however, BCI is now only allowed to disclose juvenile records for aggravated murder, murder, and any registration-eligible sex offense (as defined by Revised Code § 2950.01). Other juvenile records should not appear on a check from the Clerk of Courts, a sheriff‘s check, or on private background checks. However, violent offenses and offenses that would have been a felony if committed by an adult will be accessible in a few cases. This includes background checks for jobs in hospitals, schools, daycares, security, and others. Also, juvenile records are available to the police, courts and prosecutors.

Sealing Juvenile Records
Unlike for adult criminal records, sealing a juvenile record is not the same as expunging it. Sealed records are removed from the person‘s main criminal history file and secured in a separate file accessible only to police, courts and prosecutors. Sealed juvenile records will not appear on any background checks for employment or housing.
Juvenile justice records are not automatically sealed at 18 years of age. A person may apply to seal a juvenile record 2 years after the final discharge of the offense (i.e., termination of probation), even if the person is still a juvenile. To seal a juvenile record, a Motion or Application will need to be filed Juvenile Clerk of Courts Office. The applicant may be required to attend a hearing to determine whether the record can be sealed. Factors to be considered whether a record will be sealed are: age at time of offense, nature of offense, continued problems with the law, as well as other factors.

Expunging Juvenile Records
An expunged juvenile record is totally destroyed, in physical and electronic forms, so that the record is permanently irretrievable. A juvenile record can be expunged any time after it is sealed. If a person does not apply for expungement after sealing a juvenile record, expungement will occur automatically 5 years after the record was sealed or when the person is 23 years old (whichever happens first).

For more answers regarding Juvenile Records or if you would like to speak with an experienced attorney to begin the process of sealing or expunging a juvenile record, contact Ernst & Associates for a free consultation.