Crosscut.com takes an in-depth look at how juvenile offenders are treated in Washington. Many young offenders who are convicted of felony crimes are able to turn their life around. Unfortunately, this is not always an easy process. Washington is one of the few states that still allows agencies that run background checks to view juvenile criminal records. This means that a person who got into trouble as a young person may find it difficult to obtain housing, employment and even be accepted to education institutions because of their prior criminal record. For example, a 14-year-old who is convicted for domestic violence and serves several months in a juvenile detention center may be able to overcome their past and move on with their life but creditors do not see it that way. Most jobs, colleges and even apartment complexes run background checks and will deny applicants who have criminal records, even if they were juvenile offenders.
The article also discusses the process that is involved with having a juvenile record sealed. Attorneys must be hired and fees paid in order to get a record sealed and it still does not guarantee that no one will have access to it. Once a criminal record has been released into the digital world, it does not necessarily mean that it is gone forever. The process can also be difficult because some government employees deny that records are released at all. The article's author spoke with a Washington State Patrol spokesman who stated that all records are wiped clean at the age of 18 but the author found that last year over a million juvenile records were released.
Allowing juvenile offenders' records to be used in background checks may be doing more harm than good. While it may warn some about a person's criminal past, it can also prevent s reformed criminal from getting a higher education, a career or even their own place to live. This article also highlights the importance to fighting criminal charges even if you are a juvenile. Often, hiring a criminal defense attorney is the best way to make sure that a criminal record is not established.