Juveniles May Be Allowed More Than One Expungement

Monica:There is one thing. Like I said, you can only apply once in your lifetime. There is kind of a special caveat. Let’s say you’re a juvenile or a parent of a juvenile. Sometimes, in the juvenile system you may be given a diversion program meaning charges will be dismissed as long as you honor terms. It’s similar to being put on probation in advance but at the end, the charges are dismissed against you. You can do kind of a fast track expungement of that particular juvenile arrest that was resolved in that specific way. You have to apply within a very short timeframe and you have to specifically follow the rules in order for your application to be successful.

The advantage of doing this is that it is a specific exception. If you get an expungement from a juvenile diversion but later as an adult you have an arrest and for whatever reason you’re eligible to expunge it, that juvenile diversion expungement won’t count against you in adult court.

Even parents of juveniles may want to consider doing juvenile expungements because in the end it will protect your child in terms of background searches. I think many parents mistakenly assume that just because it’s in the juvenile system, the record may be completely private and that people won’t have access to it and that’s not necessarily the case. Sometimes somebody’s background will come back to haunt them even if it was a juvenile record.

Interviewer:Actually, this brings up another question. Let’s say you’re an adult and you get arrested for DUI and you’re able to get the withhold of adjudication. You don’t plan on applying for any government jobs or any of these places where they’re going to do a background check.

It is entirely possible you could get picked up for another crime in the next few years. Might it be a good strategy to not apply for a sealment, let’s say, because if you get charged with another crime you may want to apply it to that second one if it works out? Is that kind of too flimsy of an argument to not go for a sealment?

When It Might Not Be Possible to Apply for a Sealment

Monica:Well, I’ll need to discuss a couple factors. There are certain offenses that require a mandatory adjudication and DUI is one of them. It would never be possible to get the withhold of adjudication on a DUI in that scenario. That being said, sometimes you’re able to get diversion, which is what I described with juveniles. It’s like being put on probation and advance and in the end the state drops the charges. If you did a DUI diversion and charges got dropped because you completed everything, it’s a little bit of a judgment call as to how you would handle that. It kind of depends on the crime.

When to Use Your One Expungement

For example, let’s say possession of alcohol by a minor. You’re 20 years old and you’re caught having a beer at a party by the police or something like that. It would be a judgment call. Likely, that case would be resolved in maybe some sort of diversion program or something like that. It’s a judgment call because if you use your one potential expungement then you can’t use it later on.

That being said, I don’t know if people really think about that like, “Well, I don’t want to use mine now because I’m sure I’ll get in trouble in the future.” Hopefully, people aren’t thinking in that way. If they are, maybe having a beer when you’re 20 years old may not impact you in terms of searching for a job the same way as having a domestic violence charge or having a DUI. This would be true if you’re contemplating having some sort of job where driving was involved.

There are certain crimes out there that have a little bit more of a stigma than others. You may want to hold off if the charge is something that you don’t think, in your line of work, may hurt you very much. If you think there is a chance you may be in trouble subsequently, you may want to save your once opportunity for an expungement.

I guess the last thing I can say about expungements is that there’s something people need to be aware about. Oftentimes people think that traffic offenses, like a DUI, are viewed less seriously than criminal offenses. There are certain kinds of traffic offenses that truly are criminal. You can get adjudicated guilty, even if all your punishment is is a fine.

When to do a Personal Review

Let’s say you had an expired tag for more than six months or something like that. You would think that’s a traffic offense and it is, but it’s also a criminal offense. You go to court and you’re adjudicated and you get a $100 fine. You think you’re done with that. A year or two or three years from now, you have some sort of bogus domestic violence charge that really didn’t happen but you get arrested and then charges got dropped. If you had a previous adjudication on any type of other case, even if it’s as simple as a $100 fine on what you thought was a traffic offense, that’s going to prohibit you from getting your domestic violence case expunged.

That’s one of the advantages of doing that personal review. You can have one done, ahead of time and free of charge. If you do your own background check, you can see what is officially on your record. Then you can decide if you’re eligible for an expungement and which charge, if there is more than one, which you want to have expunged.

When Can You Get a Withhold of Adjudication?

Interviewer:One more thing I could ask is which crimes would you possibly get a resolution where you can get a withhold of adjudication and which ones can you not?

Monica:There are certain offenses that you cannot get expunged off your record and that’s ones where you’re convicted. If it’s a situation where you’re arrested for murder and you’re really not the person that did it and charges get dropped, you can get that expunged off your record.

There are even some kind of cases that even if for whatever reason you did get the withhold of adjudication you would not be eligible for sealment of expungement. Generally, those are the very serious cases. As a couple of examples, arson, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, child abuse, kidnapping, sexual battery, robbery, carjacking, burglary of a dwelling, domestic violence. That being said, if charges were dropped completely, you could get any of these expunged.

Author: Amir Ladan
A former assistant state attorney for Orange/Osceola Counties, Amir has handled thousands of cases and dozens of trials, ranging from DUI and traffic offenses to murder, in both adult and juvenile court.

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