Florida Ranks Poorly in Sealing of Juvenile Records

According to Judge Jay Blitzman, “if you believe in second chances . . . you have to believe in expungement.” Our Palm Beach and Broward County juvenile criminal defense lawyers couldn’t agree more.
If someone makes a mistake during their youth, that mistake shouldn’t necessarily follow them around for the rest of their life, limiting their options and tarnishing their reputation.

Unfortunately, Florida has been given a rating of 3 out of 5 stars by the Juvenile Law Center, which composed a scorecard rating the availability of ways to expunge/seal a juvenile criminal record in each state. And that isn’t even the worst part of the story.

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, the brains of teenagers are insufficiently developed and, because of this lack of full development, the ways in which teens react tend to be far more dictated by emotion than by reason. The reason for this is due to biology rather than a criminal mindset. Essentially, because the amygdala (responsible for for responding to fear) develops before the prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain responsible for logic and reason-based decision making), teens have no choice but to act in response to fear and emotions, as their ability to make reason-based decisions regarding their actions is stunted.

Now that we’ve established that youthful mistakes can often be explained by science, it’s easier to understand why a mistake made — or a crime committed — by a juvenile individual should not follow them around for the rest of their live. Why should a teen, who acted out due to immaturity and lack of full development, have to forfeit admission to schools, chances at a job, etc., later on in life? Because juveniles, depending on the nature of their crime, often deserve a second chance, it’s critical that juveniles have access to options through which they can expunge and/or seal their record.

Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert are appalled that, as reported by the Juvenile Law Center, the State of Florida ranked 32nd out of all of the states in the country in terms of keeping juvenile records sealed and expunged. This is unacceptable and its something that we as a state should be ashamed of. By failing so glaringly in this respect, we are setting up for failure thousands of individuals who have made otherwise forgivable mistakes as juveniles.

Not protecting the privacy of these people, who 95% of the time committed crimes that were not violent, means closing off a very significant portion of the population to education and good jobs, as we discussed above.

Collectively, we must do better. Our criminal defense lawyers at Leifert & Leifert know that the more we push our state legislature, law enforcement departments and court systems to act in an acceptable manner when it comes to keeping private juvenile records, the more likely we will be to achieve our goal. If you have any questions about this or any other Florida criminal defense issue, please contact our attorneys for a free consultation by calling 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363). We look forward to speaking with you!

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