Colorado Law Helps Protect Juveniles from Long-Term Criminal Record

The teen years are often wrought with experimentation and deviant behaviors as adolescents develop from their emerging self to a well-rounded adult.  While some adolescents will continue in a life of crime, many mature and no longer make risky choices. It is known that adolescent substance abusers cannot be considered significant for case studies as much of their behavior can be attributed to normal developmental experimentation.  

Unfortunately, during this tumultuous developmental period, many teens make choices that lead to legal consequences.  Sadly, these young people very often have a criminal record that may cause future difficulty in living a normal and productive life.  Criminal records carry a stigma and can make it difficult or impossible to secure meaningful employment. Furthermore, background checks are often run before a person can obtain a rental property.  The criminal record may follow the person making it harder to obtain housing or even loans.

After considering all the costly consequences of a juvenile record, it is important to be aware that some offenses may be expunged from a person’s record.  In some instances, it may even be done automatically. This gives hope for the futures of many young people who in their immaturity made a bad choice. Bad choices do not have to become a bad life.

What Qualifies for Expungement

In years past, juvenile offenders possessed the right to petition for an expungement if they were eligible to do so.  Eligibility requirements dictated a waiting period that could range between one and five years. Fortunately for juvenile offenders, Colorado law has changed in their favor.  Currently, the court system may automatically expunge records that meet certain situational requirements.

A record may be expunged in cases where the juvenile was not found guilty during the court trial or the case was dismissed.  Additionally, if the offender has completed a sentence for a petty offense, drug petty offense, or a class 2 or 3 misdemeanors, records may be eligible for automatic expungement.  Level 1 or 2 drug offenses that did not involve a sex offense or domestic violence offenses will also qualify for expungement.

The good news is once a Juvenile record has been expunged, the person is legally able to claim that they have no juvenile record.  They no longer have to acknowledge any of their past records. Information regarding prior arrests, charges, convictions, or sentences in correlation with any expunged records can legally be denied by the person.

Juveniles are legally entitled to receive a written notice of their expungement rights from the courts.  Moreover, juvenile offenders are further protected as it is illegal for a prosecuting attorney to use the waiver of expungement rights as a means to secure a plea agreement.

While this discussion focused upon cases in which juveniles have the right to have their records expunged, these rights revolved around specific circumstances.  Thus, it is important to remember these benefits will not be an option for every juvenile offender. These policies are important in the lives of many, as they can be an important part of securing a better future for those who have made foolish, adolescent mistakes.