Juveniles starting life with a record in Texas can face challenges that cause setbacks throughout their adult lives. One mistake can change the trajectory of the opportunities available for education, work, and housing. Having a record expunged or sealed can create pathways for a better future for a juvenile.
The role of a juvenile record-sealing lawyer in Houston is to guide families and youth entering adulthood through the process of removing the legal barriers that pose challenges to many teens in Texas with a criminal record. Understanding the legal options available to you will help pave the way for a better future beyond the confines of a criminal record.
Texas defines a juvenile as someone between the ages of ten and sixteen. When a juvenile seeks to clear an offense committed during this period, the options are expunging a record or sealing it. A juvenile must qualify for one of the two options.
Expungement means that any evidence of criminal history is removed from their record. This process allows a juvenile to deny any criminal offense they were charged for. When expungement is not an option, sealing a record may be available.
Sealing a record keeps a juvenile’s criminal history from being viewed by the public. The records about the crime are destroyed except for the court file retained by a court clerk. A seal allows for a better opportunity to escape the shadow of a criminal record moving forward.
Expungement creates the optimal legal path for a juvenile with a record. When expungement is not an option, sealing a record should be considered. Qualifying for expungement requires the following to have occurred:
An expungement is no longer an option when a juvenile is found guilty of a crime. Some exceptions allow juveniles convicted of Class C misdemeanors to complete a special probation known as deferred adjudication to prevent the conviction from being on their record.
Sealing a juvenile’s record is the alternate option when expungement is impossible. Texas does not automatically seal a record when a juvenile turns 18. At twenty-one, most juveniles qualify for recording sealing, with some exceptions. Any sex offense or aggravated felony committed by a juvenile does not qualify for expungement or sealing, but sealing is an option in the following cases:
A juvenile convicted of possession of alcohol by a minor also has the opportunity to expunge their record at the age of 21 when no other conviction of possession is committed. There are multiple avenues for protecting a juvenile’s future at the time of arrest when you work with a Houston juvenile defense attorney to review the case and advocate for more favorable options and outcomes. Contact the Law Office of David A. Beston, Criminal Defense Attorney, for a free consultation and begin the process of guarding the future of a juvenile.