Sealing Juvenile Records
The records produced in a juvenile case can have a devastating effect on the future of your child. An adjudication of engaging in delinquent conduct creates a depository of records which can follow your child throughout their entire life. Juvenile court records include the directive to apprehend, adjudication, and disposition of the case. The collateral consequences of these documents may include denial of admission into higher education and difficulty in obtaining employment. Prospective employers may gain access to juvenile court records. Many occupations will deny jobs to applicants with a juvenile history. Acquiring licensing for many professions in the medical, legal, educational fields may be off limits due to juvenile records. Security clearances can be denied to applicants with juvenile records. Juveniles with sex offender registration requirements can be denied housing due to child safety zone restrictions. The effect of this paper trail can last far beyond the punishment assessed by a judge or jury.
There is no right to expunge (destroy) juvenile records in Texas. Fortunately, Stuckle and Associates can assist your child in clearing their juvenile history by seeking a sealing of the records. Successful record “sealing” results in removing most juvenile court documents out of public view. Texas Family Code § 58.003 sets the criteria for “sealing” juvenile records. Sealing of records may lessen the collateral impact on residence, employment, and security clearance for your child. This procedure authorizes your child the ability to seek meaningful employment in the future. Additionally, your child will not be restricted in where he / she wants to live or from obtaining specialized licensing from the state.
In some cases the State accepts a case for prosecution and it never results in an adjudication or a dismissal. Stuckle and Associates can petition the court to seal these matters in Collin, Dallas, Denton, Rockwall and Grayson counties. In cases without an adjudication the records may be sealed if: (1). There was no adjudication in the case; (2). Two (2) years have passed since the last official action; (3). There has not been a subsequent felony conviction or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude and (4). No criminal or juvenile case is pending. Texas Family Code § 58.003(a)(1)(2).
If there has been an adjudication in the case, sealing of records is still possible. Texas Family Code § 58.003(c) sets forth the general legal criteria to obtain a sealing of records in Texas after an adjudication:
- The person must now be 19 years of age or older;
- The case did not result in a determinate sentence;
- There was no finding of “engaging in habitual felony conduct”;
- The case had not been transferred from juvenile court to a criminal court;
- The person has not been convicted of a felony after reaching age 17;
- The records have not been used in evidence in a punishment phase of a criminal proceeding;
- There is not a continuing duty to register as a sex offender (Texas Family Code § 58.003(n).
The motion for sealing of records will require court action unless the prosecutor agrees to waive a hearing. Stuckle and Associates will file the motion and a hearing is set. The court will grant sealing of the records if all the legal criteria are met. Once the court grants a sealing of the records all of the police agencies, prosecutor offices and juvenile clerks must send the juvenile records to the court who ordered the sealing. Records must be sent from these entities within a couple of months. Texas Family Code § 58.003(g)(3) A successful sealing of records is treated as if the adjudication had never occurred. Texas Family Code § 58.003(g)(5).
Once sealed only the person who is the subject of the records and others named in the court order may view them. Texas Family Code § 58.003(h). Upon successful sealing of records your child does not have to state on a job application or when seeking a license from the state that they ever had a juvenile case. Texas Family Code § 58.003(j).
Stuckle and Associates can assist your child in clearing their juvenile history by seeking a sealing of the records. This legal action is of significant help to your child with their future employment, residence, and quality of life.