Many people believe that juvenile offenses are not serious and that they are extinguished or sealed when a juvenile reaches the age of 18. Unfortunately, that is not correct. A juvenile record can be long lasting and it can have a significant impact on a juvenile’s ability to find employment or rent apartments as an adult.
Certification as an Adult.
Some juvenile records are certified to adult court automatically by operation of law. For example, any first degree murder conviction is certified to adult court.
Certification to adult court may also occur based on a motion from the prosecution. Juveniles over the age of 13 can be certified into adult court when the prosecutor files a motion for adult certification in a felony case. That is often the case in matters involving criminal sexual conduct, assault or murder. Having experienced counsel to combat that certification can mean the difference between an indefinite criminal record and a record that is sealed to the public or only partially accessible.
A DWI case is also treated as an adult criminal offense if the juvenile is age 16 or 17 and charged with another misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor traffic violation simultaneously.
Traffic offenses for juveniles ages 16 or 17 are also under adult court jurisdiction pursuant to Minnesota Statutes Sec. 2560B.163, Subd. 1.
Predator/Sex Offenses Require Public Registration
Any court order requiring registration of a juvenile ages 16 or 17 as a sexual offender is a public record. If the juvenile is considered a level 3 sexual offender, the registration record is also public. So too is a juvenile order certifying a juvenile as an adult and convicted of a requisite felony.
Public Hearings in Juvenile Court
Although juvenile hearings are often private, some proceedings are open to the public. Specifically, proceedings are open to the public for any 16 or 17 year old charged with a felony offense or in any case where the court has extended juvenile jurisdiction (EJJ). Motions may be filed by parties or on the court’s own motion for some proceedings to remain private. Having experienced counsel to shield a juvenile charged with a felony from public scrutiny can be an important consideration in any juvenile case.
Public Records in Juvenile Court
Juvenile records may become public records if a juvenile is 16 years or older and charged with an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult. This is codified under Minnesota Statutes Sec. 260B.171. Interestingly enough, parents are often deceived when felony charges are reduced or dismissed. If the original charge would have been a felony for an adult, any plea to a reduced charge or a dismissal would remain a public record.
Juvenile Records Accessible to Agencies and Law Enforcement
Often parents believe that a juvenile record will not affect their children once they reach adulthood. However, under Minnesota Statutes Sec. 260B.171 and Minn. Stat. Sec. 245A there are exceptions even for misdemeanors. A court may always unseal a juvenile record and juvenile records are automatically accessible to licensing agencies such as the Department of Human Services. A juvenile record may preclude an adult from working in the health care field, in a daycare, educational field, foster care or from possessing a firearm. Juvenile records are also always accessible to law enforcement agencies.
There are many juvenile offenses that require law enforcement to notify that juvenile’s school officials. School notification must occur when a juvenile is charged (not convicted) of a controlled substance crime including possession, possession with intent to sell or possession of substances with the intent to manufacture methamphetamines, possession of a small amount of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia or possession, consumption or purchase of alcohol.
School notification must also occur if the offense is one where protection of a victim is necessary. That may occur where assault, criminal sexual conduct, terroristic threats, harassment or similar offenses are charged.