All kids make mistakes. Peer pressure, impulsivity, rebellion, experimentation, and curiosity can lead a child or teen to make some truly questionable decisions. Some of us manage to escape our teens and our bad choices relatively unscathed. Others of us have a bit more trouble, having run-ins with the law and being adjudicated as a juvenile delinquent or convicted as a youthful offender.
Even though juvenile records are typically confidential under Oklahoma law, there are circumstances in which the contents of a record may be viewed by a state or federal agency. Often, a young person finds out the hard way how much of an impact a juvenile record can have when he or she wishes to enlist in the military, and the United States Armed Forces deny entry based on a criminal record.
For adults burdened by the mistakes of their youth, obtaining an expungement of juvenile records can provide relief.
Where expungement of adult criminal records is described in Sections 18/19 and 991(c) of Title 22 of the Oklahoma statutes, the expungement of juvenile records is outlined in 10A O.S. § 2-6-109 of the state's Children and Juvenile Code. This statute allows a person to petition for an expungement of his or her juvenile record if he or she meets the following qualifications:
- The person is at least 21 years of age
- The person has not been arrested for any adult offense and has no charges or indictments filed or pending
- The person has not been convicted of any criminal offense nor been the subject of a deferred sentence
- All court costs, restitution, fines and other court-ordered requirements related to the juvenile adjudication have been paid and completed
After a person files a petition for juvenile record expungement, the court calls a hearing, providing 30 days notice to the district attorney, the Office of Juvenile Affairs, the OSBI, and any other relevant parties. At the hearing, the court will determine whether the privacy needs of the petitioner outweigh the public interest of maintaining the record. If the court grants the expungement, all or part of the record is sealed. After 10 years, the expunged record may be destroyed if it has not been unsealed during that time.
As If It Never Happened
One of the key benefits of juvenile record expungement is that it allows the petitioner to tell employers, educational institutions, and any other party that asks about criminal history that he or she does not have any criminal history. Because the record of the offense no longer exists, according to 10A O.S. § 2-6-109(d) the offense itself no longer exists:
"Upon the entry of an order to expunge any juvenile court record, or any part thereof, the subject official actions shall be deemed never to have occurred, and the person in interest and all juvenile and criminal justice agencies may properly reply, upon any inquiry in the matter, that no such action ever occurred and that no such record exists with respect to the person."
The person whose record has been expunged may not be denied employment or educational status for failure to disclose the expunged juvenile record:
"Employers, educational institutions, state and local government agencies, officials, and employees shall not, in any application or interview or otherwise, require an applicant to disclose any information contained in any expunged juvenile records. An applicant need not, in answer to any question concerning arrest, juvenile and criminal records, provide information that has been expunged, including any reference to or information concerning expungement and may state that no such action has ever occurred. Such an application may not be denied solely because of the applicant's refusal to disclose information that has been expunged."
Clear Your Record with Help from an Expungement Lawyer
If you need your juvenile record sealed, an attorney knowledgeable of Oklahoma expungement law can ensure your petition is filed properly and can represent you in court hearings related to the expungement of your record.
Find out more about adult record expungement on our pages dedicated to Section 18 and Section 991(c) expungements. To speak with a lawyer about clearing your record, call (405) 418-8888.
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