Recently, a magazine released juvenile records regarding the Reality TV family The Duggars, which shocked many as impossible because they should be "sealed". In my practice, I too come across many juveniles who feel that their juvenile criminal record is sealed, or magically disappears when they become an adult. Unfortunately, I have to break it to them that in Virginia, that is not the case.
According to Virginia Code §16.1-306, the general rule is juvenile misdemeanor conviction records must be destroyed if the juvenile reaches age 19 and five years have elapsed since the last hearing. If the conviction is for certain traffic offenses, the records must be destroyed when the juvenile turns 29. However, under this code section if a juvenile was found guilty of a delinquent act which would be a felony if committed by an adult, the records must be retained. Additionally, if the juvenile was found guilty of ANY offense in connection to a delinquent act that would be a felony if committed by an adult the records must be retained for the time specified for the felony, which means forever, as except for the specific exceptions in this code section, felony convictions cannot be expunged in the state of Virginia.
This means that felonies committed when you were a juvenile, and even the misdemeanors connected to those felonies, with very specific exceptions, stay on your criminal record forever. This can obviously have major ramifications for clients. I had a client who was in his late 30s and was denied eligibility into an alternative punishment program for his criminal offense because he had a robbery conviction as a juvenile, over 15 years prior.
Even if such charges were dismissed, the record remains unless YOU file a motion to destroy the records. Such destruction does NOT happen automatically. This includes dismissals by way of a deferred finding, meaning you admitted the evidence was sufficient for a guilty finding but earned the charge being dismissed by compliance with court probationary conditions.
At the Hallauer Law Firm, we represent juvenile defendants, and understand how mistakes as a juvenile can affect your both your educational and job future. If you can relate to this issue, give us a call. We offer free 30 minute consultations and our goal is to get the best results for you, to preserve not only your present, but your future as well.