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New record-sealing laws may benefit those convicted as juveniles

On Behalf of | Oct 10, 2023 | Redemption Law

Young adults who are not yet legally independent can make mistakes that may haunt them for years to come. Thankfully, the juvenile justice system has certain rules in place that can help reduce how long many youthful offenders must suffer lingering consequences for an underage conviction.

Many young adults convicted of an offense when they were minors eventually qualify for record sealing. A sealed juvenile record is not accessible to the public during a traditional background check, which effectively means that a sealed record will not limit someone’s educational, housing or employment opportunities.

Some juvenile offenders do not make the effort to seal their records, possibly because of other requirements imposed by the courts. Yet, a new law passed by the Washington state legislature may help roughly 6,000 juvenile offenders become newly eligible to reduce the consequences of a prior conviction.

What rules have state lawmakers changed?

Previously, juvenile offenders convicted of sex offenses in particular would face both punishment and reporting requirements. Juvenile offenders would need to register as convicted sex offenders just like an adult accused of a similar offense would need to do.

The only way to and that registration requirement is to petition the courts and prove to a judge that the party with the juvenile offense was sufficiently rehabilitated, making them less of a threat to public safety. Most convicted juvenile sex offenders would need to continue registering whenever they move to a new community.

Not only does this place a burden on the individuals convicted by the state, but the state itself must also absorb a burden created by the need to track those juvenile offenders. Under the new law passed in April 2023 that takes effect on November 1st, 2023, juvenile sex offenders will no longer have a duty to register with the state. They may therefore see more value in seeking to formally seal their criminal records so that a conviction from their use won’t continue to haunt them for years to come.

Those with major blemishes on their criminal records often require the assistance of an attorney when seeking to seal their juvenile records and improve their personal circumstances. Understanding the changing requirements for different criminal convictions may help people eliminate the lingering consequences of a prior offense.