Posted On: April 18, 2012 by Leifert & Leifert

Palm Beach County Juvenile Crimes Can Haunt

When a child or teen is accused of a juvenile crime in Palm Beach County, there is sometimes the assumption that those offenses disappear from your record once you turn 18. eyes.jpg

Our Palm Beach County juvenile defense attorneys know this is not the case - which is why it's so important to have a skilled defense attorney before your child ever sees a judge. Having strong legal representation at the very beginning of the process will give your child his or her best shot of having those charges dismissed, reduced and ultimately expunged.

The issue of how a juvenile indiscretion can haunt someone into their adulthood was recently explored by The Palm Beach Post. The individual they chose first to highlight was a law school graduate from West Palm Beach who now resides in Miami.

She is successful and was able to overcome her past to reach where she is today. But the felony charges she racked up between the time she was 12 and 17 have no doubt impacted her. She told the reporter that because she was 17 when she was charged felonious grand larceny and burglary, she was tried as an adult. That has meant the charges have stayed on her record, and she has had difficulty in the past finding an apartment as well as employment.

Another individual is now 20 and grew up in foster care and group homes after her mother passed away. In that unstable environment, she got into trouble. She was charged with grand theft auto, battery on a school employee, as well as fleeing and eluding. But she went back to school after her release from the justice system at age 18. Her plans are to attend state college and join the Navy - but she worries about how that criminal record might hurt her chances of both.

What most parents and young people don't realize is that juvenile records don't automatically disappear once a child turns 18. In fact, some of those records can be accessed by anyone in the public. Under our state's sunshine laws, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has to disclose any details of criminal history - including juvenile delinquency - upon request, unless those records have been expunged or sealed. If your teen has been arrested on a felony charge, his or her name, photograph, address and arrest report can become public. The same is true for a teen who has been convicted of three or more misdemeanors or if the child has been charged as an adult.

In most cases, the FDLE will hold onto your child's criminal record until he or she turns 24 years-old. At that time, most juvenile records are expunged, or essentially destroyed. But there are exceptions to this. If your teen has been labeled a serious habitual offender or if he or she was ever committed to a correctional facility or prison, the FDLE can hang onto those records until he or she is 26 years-old. If your teen is older than 18 and was charged with a forcible felony before his or her juvenile record is expunged, then that juvenile record can be tacked onto their adult record. The same goes for a child who is charged as an adult or if he or she has been deemed a sexual offender.

It's important to note that these things can be overcome, so just because your child is charged with a serious offense, it doesn't mean his or her life is over. But because of the serious impact it can have, securing a good defense attorney is going to be critical for laying the foundation for a more positive future.

If you are facing criminal charges in Broward or Palm Beach counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.

Additional Resources:
Crimes come back to haunt young offenders in Florida, By Julius Whigham II, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

More Blog Entries:
Shooting in West Palm Beach Nets Arrest of 17-year-old, March 5, 2012, Palm Beach County Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog