For individuals under 18 years old and their parents, having a criminal case go through Virginia’s juvenile court system may seem like a blessing. Instead of the severe punishment a minor could face for a conviction in adult court, he or she will be adjudicated as delinquent. The juvenile justice system may carry some sanctions, such as bootcamp, being detained at a juvenile correctional facility, and fines. However, the focus is on rehabilitation and addressing the minor’s underlying issues. Overall, the penalties for a person under 18 are seemingly light.
Unfortunately, the bigger picture is much bleaker when you consider the collateral consequences of an adjudication of delinquency. These are the non-criminal implications that could follow the minor around for life. Some may be avoidable, which is why it is important to trust a Virginia juvenile crimes defense attorney to obtain the best possible outcome. Still, you should be aware of the collateral consequences that affect a juvenile case.
Impact on Your Driver’s License: For a minor found delinquent on certain charges designated by law, the court can order a driver’s license suspension or a denial of driving privileges for those who do not yet have a license. Virginia’s statute on disposition of delinquency lists several different crimes that qualify for a suspension, including alcohol offenses, drug and firearms crimes, and refusal to take a breath test under the implied consent law.
Implications for Employment: While many juvenile matters are sealed, the law on confidentiality of court records does not apply to a case involving a child 14 years or older who is adjudicated delinquent on felony charges. That means the arrest, pretrial proceedings, and delinquency records will remain part of the child’s permanent criminal record. The information is available to the public, including an employer who asks or requests a background check.
Another collateral consequence for employment relates to professional licensing rules, some of which prohibit issuing a license to individuals with a criminal history. A person adjudicated as delinquent may not be able to pursue some career opportunities.
Effects for Your Student Status: When a juvenile has been charged with certain crimes, Virginia law requires that government officials forward information to the minor’s school. Depending on the rules at your institution, you could be suspended, expelled, or subject to other disciplinary actions. For individuals attending, applying to, or considering college, records not protected by confidentiality rules will be available. Some universities require current students to inform administration about a criminal matter, and many will conduct a background check similar to employment.
Collateral Consequences for Future Encounters with the Law: Even for adjudication of delinquency that leads to sealing records in a juvenile matter, the documentation does not always go away. This information may not show up in a background check for purposes of employment or school, but police and prosecutors may have full access if a minor is arrested on criminal charges in the future. In some cases, this may lead the individual to be treated as a second-time offender, which is extremely serious when the subsequent encounter with the law involves felony charges.
Trust a Virginia Juvenile Crimes Defense Lawyer to Protect Your Future
If you or your child is involved with a case in juvenile court, the importance of retaining legal counsel cannot be overstated. The Virginia juvenile court process is highly specialized, requiring a skilled attorney who knows the relevant statutes and rules. Our team at Leary Law, P.C. has extensive experience representing clients in juvenile cases, so please contact our firm to set up a consultation at our offices in Manassas or Fairfax, VA.