When a record is expunged, it is erased, and it legally is as though the act never happened. If you committed a felony as a juvenile, you might want to have it expunged. For your juvenile felony to be expunged, you must be a certain age, a certain amount of time must have passed, you must fill out the proper paperwork, you probably will need to pay a fee, and you might have to appear before a judge. Being able to satisfy all of these requirements, however, does not guarantee that your juvenile felony will be expunged.
Most jurisdictions allow or even require expungement or sealing of juvenile records. These records can contain misdemeanor and felony convictions. The premise is that a juvenile offender should have the opportunity to begin adulthood with no record.
The impact of a juvenile felony can affect a person for the rest of his or her life. It might mean being ineligible for student loans or not getting a good job. Landlords often run criminal background checks on applicants. A felony conviction can result in being turned down when applying for housing.
Not having to be identified as a convicted felon is the reason for felony expunging. Each jurisdiction has its own procedure for expunging a juvenile felony. Some general guidelines apply to most of them.
You must reach a certain age before requesting that a juvenile felony be expunged. A specific amount of time must have passed since the felony was committed, with no further incidents. This time limit may vary depending on the class or degree of the felony. The most serious types of felonies usually cannot be expunged.
Terminology is important when discussing expunging of records or charges. “Sealing a record” and “pardon” are two terms that sometimes are confused with the term "expunge." Sealing a juvenile record means that the record is hidden and not accessible. A pardon is forgiveness, but the charge still exits. Neither a pardon nor the sealing of records is the same as expunging a juvenile felony.
To expunge a felony, there might be forms you must complete and then submit to the proper authority. There usually are filing fees or court costs associated with the process. A formal request, petition or motion might have to be made to expunge a juvenile felony. This request is made to the court where the conviction occurred. In some cases, you might need to appear before a judge to have a juvenile felony expunged from your record.
There are various reasons that an expungement request might be denied. Too many offenses as a juvenile or as an adult record can result in a denial. A petition also might be turned down because of the degree of the felony or because of pending charges.