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Houston Juvenile Record Sealing Lawyer

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.

Options for Juveniles in Texas

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.

Qualifying for Expungement

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:

  • A juvenile who was arrested is never charged
  • A juvenile charged with a crime had their case dismissed
  • A verdict of not guilty was determined by a judge or jury
  • The juvenile was a victim of identity theft

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

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:

  • The individual was a minor when their case was tried
  • While in a juvenile facility, a determination sentence has not been received
  • Two years have passed since being discharged
  • No convictions have occurred since being released
  • There are no further pending proceedings

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.