If you have a child who has been convicted of a crime, or even if your minor child was arrested for an offense and charged but never convicted, it is important to learn more about the expungement process for juvenile crimes. According to the American Bar Association (ABA), expungement is the process through which court records, including criminal records, can be completely erased, removed, or destroyed. Once criminal records are expunged, it is as if they never existed in the first place. Under Virginia law (Va. Code § 16.1-306), there are multiple ways in which a juvenile may be eligible to have records expunged, and many of those options are automatic. The following are five things you should know about having a juvenile criminal record expunged.
Some Juvenile Records Are Automatically Expunged When the Minor Reaches the Age of 19
Virginia’s expungement statute clarifies that there are some situations in which a minor’s juvenile criminal record is automatically expunged when that juvenile reaches the age of 19. However, there are additional requirements that must be met in order for a juvenile to be eligible for automatic expungement at the age of 19. Aside from certain traffic cases and certain felony cases, all criminal records for a juvenile can be automatically expunged once the “juvenile has attained the age of 10 years and five years have elapsed since the date of the last hearing in any case of the juvenile.”
Some Traffic Cases Cannot Be Expunged Until the Juvenile is 29 Years Old
In criminal cases where the clerk of court in Virginia is required to provide criminal records to the Department of Motor Vehicles (those listed in Va. Code § 46.2-383), those records will not be automatically expunged until the juvenile reaches the age of 29.
Automatic Expungement is Not Possible in Most Convicted Felony Cases
In criminal cases where the juvenile was found guilty of an offense that would have been charged as a felony if the juvenile had committed the crime as an adult, then the court retains the records and they are not automatically expunged. Similarly, if a juvenile is convicted of a criminal offense that is ancillary to a crime that would have been charged as a felony if the juvenile had been an adult, those records are also retained and are not eligible for automatic expungement.
You Cannot Have More Than One Expungement
Juveniles, like adults, are only eligible to have criminal records expunged once. Accordingly, it is important to speak with a juvenile criminal defense attorney in Virginia about your options for expungement or record sealing.
Convictions for Felony Offenses Still Can Be Expunged
Although Virginia law does not have automatic expungements of juvenile delinquency offenses that would have been charged as felonies if the juvenile was an adult, the convicted offender can still request to have the records expunged. However, the juvenile offender will need to go through the process of expungement in Virginia rather than have an automatic expungement. A Fairfax juvenile criminal defense lawyer can help.
Seek Advice from a Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer in Fairfax
If you have questions about defending against juvenile criminal charges or expungement options, an experienced juvenile criminal defense attorney in Fairfax can assist you. Contact Leary Law today for more information.