Protecting Your Future With Compassion And Understanding

How sealing juvenile records can improve your adult life

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2024 | redemption law

Everyone is susceptible to making mistakes, especially when they’re young. The juvenile justice system recognizes this, aiming to rehabilitate youth who break the law.

However, some juvenile records can linger into adulthood, creating significant obstacles for individuals trying to move forward. Thankfully, Washington offers a process called record sealing, which gives people a chance to clear their past and improve their future prospects.

The burden of a juvenile record

Contrary to popular belief, juvenile records don’t automatically disappear when you turn 18. These records can be accessed by potential employers, landlords and even educational institutions. This can have a devastating impact on a young person’s life, making it difficult to:

  • Secure a good job
  • Find safe housing
  • Pursue higher education

The consequences go beyond practical limitations. A juvenile record can be a constant source of shame and hinder self-esteem. It can also lead to feelings of hopelessness and limit a person’s motivation to succeed. Given that most juvenile offenses are non-violent and committed by teenagers still under development, carrying this burden well into adulthood seems unfair and counterproductive.

The benefits of sealing your record

Essentially, sealing a juvenile record restricts public access to it. While law enforcement and certain government agencies might still have some level of access, employers and landlords typically won’t be able to see it.

A sealed record can allow you to answer truthfully about criminal history on job applications. This may significantly increase your chances of landing a good job, especially in fields that require background checks. Moreover, a sealed record increases your chances of securing a stable living environment, which is essential for overall well-being.

To initiate the process for sealing a juvenile record in Washington, you must be at least 18 years old. The waiting period is two years for most crimes, but you might have to wait five years after release for a Class A felony.

Sealing a juvenile record is not a guarantee of a perfect future, but it’s a significant step towards removing an unfair burden. It can allow you to demonstrate that you’ve learned from your mistakes and are ready to contribute positively to society. By taking this step, you’re potentially opening doors to a brighter future where you can be judged based on your present actions and potential, not the mistakes of your youth.

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