People make mistakes and learn from them every day; however, a criminal record stemming from a decision you made years ago can follow and restrict you. Maryland law treats juvenile records fairer than other states, but there’s still a legal process to follow if you are seeking expungement. Read on to learn more about…
Why consider expungement and how it can change your future;
The Juvenile Expungement process and what to expect; and
Expungement, Sealing, and Confidentiality: differences and similarities.
Hurdles to Expect and Clearing a Path to Your Future
Listen: things happen. Years ago, you might have made some choices that lead to legal action, and from it received a juvenile sentence. Learning from that experience and actively changing your life is admirable. Do not let those previous charges waste your work and affect your future.
There are several main ways the courts sentence children found delinquent, with sentencing for juveniles varying based on the case.
When found delinquent, a judge could issue a disposition order to determine the child’s needs. This would happen after the adjudicatory phase of the proceedings—a similar process to how courts handle criminal cases.
The following are the common sentences juveniles face as a part of their disposition if they are found delinquent:
The court orders the child to follow a set of conditions and places them under the Department of Juvenile Services supervision.
Similar to incarceration, commitment tends to look different than adult prison sentences. For example, a court may order them to live in a residential juvenile detention facility for a period of time—typically for up to a year. Other forms of this could include house arrest or approved custody in a relative or proper guardian’s home.
Depending on the case—typically with stolen or damaged property or injury—a judge may hold the juvenile responsible for costs stemming from their actions. Maryland law allows courts to hold the child and their parents responsible for up to $10,000 in restitution.
These penalties, along with their offenses, carry significant weight on a record. On most college applications, schools ask about your criminal background; it is a bad idea to be dishonest about this part of your life—admissions departments usually have ways to find out. With this information, colleges might choose not to admit you for safety reasons, depending on the offense.
By contacting an attorney and filing for expungement or sealing your records, you are taking a big step in the right direction for your future. You should not have to deal with an issue of the past in the present. Take advantage of the legal opportunity to pursue expungement using the following process:
Juvenile Expungement: How It Works
Getting your record expunged can seem like a relatively straightforward process. However, like a juvenile delinquency case, it is best to go in well-represented.
Petition: How to get your record expunged? you begin the process by filing a petition form (Form 11-601) with the court in which your original juvenile case was filed.
Serving and Objections: the petition will be served on the following:
Each family member of the victim listed in the court record as having attended the adjudication
The State’s Attorney
In addition, all of the above-listed may file an objection to the petition in the same court, which lists the reasons the petition should not be granted.
Objections must be filed within 30 days after the petition is served; from there, the court must hold a…
Hearing: the court will schedule a hearing following the filing and any objections. However, if the petition does not meet the grounds for expungement, the court may deny the petition without a hearing to expunge record.
Courts may grant a petition without a hearing if there are no objections filed.
Here, you (the petitioner) will have the opportunity to present evidence as to why the court should grant your expungement. If there is an objection, however, they will present evidence to the contrary. It ends with the judge’s…
Decision: Following the hearing, the court will rule the petitioner is either entitled to or not entitled to expungement. In the former, the judge orders for the expungement of all records pertinent to the delinquency charges. In the latter, the court denies the petition.
Three Terms: Expungement, Sealing, and Confidentiality
There are three terms often used when discussing records—especially juvenile records—you should know: expungement, sealing, and confidentiality.
As we have covered, expungement is when courts eliminate police or court records from the public and...
Some conflate this term with the process of sealing a record. Like expungement, sealing makes your records unavailable to the public but viewable by certain agencies.
For example, colleges or universities cannot require you to tell them about your sealed information or refuse admission if you refuse to disclose it. The same is true for employers, except they are also not allowed to fire you for not disclosing. Sealing also bars state agencies from requesting said records when applying for permits or registrations.
On the other hand, the following are a few of those who may access your records post-sealing:
You and your attorney
Criminal justice officials
An employer or government agency required to perform criminal background checks on potential/current employees or applicants
Childcare employers who use volunteer work
Health occupations boards
Finally, there is confidentiality. The juvenile criminal justice system keeps most juvenile records confidential to shift the focus on rehabilitation. Notwithstanding, many of the previously named entities still have access to these records despite their confidentiality in the eyes of the public—such as schools, attorneys, child protective agencies, and law enforcement. Pursuing expungement can alleviate the anxieties of this information’s further distribution.