The popular belief is that once you turn 18, you’re granted an automatic fresh start, with any teenage blemishes on your record, if not completely disappearing into the ether, then at least relegated to “Doesn’t Count” status. This, of course, is untrue.
A juvenile record does not vanish when the youth becomes an adult. Not right away, at least. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) holds onto the record until the person turns 24, or in the case of serving out a sentence in a juvenile detention facility, age 26. Then, the record is expunged, no longer casting a shadow on the person’s future prospects.
Indeed, there are exceptions to this statute, including forcible felonies where a youth is adjudicated as an adult, sexual offenses, and forcible felonies committed by someone over the age 18 who has yet to have their record expunged. In these instances, the juvenile record merges with their adult record. Barring these situations, Florida state statute gives you that shadow-free fresh start.
But 6 years is a long time to wait for the magic wand of the law to pass over the mistakes of youth. And these are crucial years; years when most people apply for their first real job, for apartment leases, colleges, internships, loans. It isn’t a block of time where one can just simply wait it out if there’s been a legal hiccup in their youth. If you’re in this age bracket and you need to learn about juvenile record expungement or sealing in Florida, now is the time.
Background Checks and Juvenile Records
Unfortunately, an employer using a good background check service can still mine someone’s juvenile record, sometimes even after the records are destroyed in accordance with state statutes, and even with the strict confidentiality pertaining to juvenile records.
This is because most of Florida’s laws regarding the privacy of juvenile criminal histories were passed before the vast reach of the internet. When records were self-contained paper documents, it was more feasible to keep them private, and easier to destroy all records when state statute required it. Now, arrest records are posted online by law enforcement agencies, and this includes juvenile records. Private companies fixed on selling employers data for background checks gain access to these records by simple internet downloads. Even after a juvenile’s criminal history gets expunged, private companies may still try to sell possible employers old data.
It can be frustrating when a job-seeker sits down to fill out an application only to find him or herself staring at questions about their juvenile criminal history. Being familiar with your case, how it was handled and what the outcome was is paramount in being able to get through those questions. Also important is knowing whether or not private companies may have outdated information on you that contradicts what you know to be true. Conducting a thorough criminal background check for yourself can give you the assurance you need to lawfully deny or fail to report the arrest.
However, there are some instances when you must report the arrest regardless of the outcome –a job working with a criminal justice agency; with children; with the elderly; or the disabled are a few of these.
SealMyRecord.com has been helping parents, teens and young adults navigate the often confusing terrain of juvenile criminal records for more than a decade. We’ve watched hundreds of clients gain confidence from having their lives back in their control. Contact us today for a FREE case evaluation, and let us help you move forward.