What Happens to a Juvenile Record Once They Turn 18?

Before turning 18, arrest and delinquency adjudication records are typically kept by the courts and remain there until turning 21. Certain circumstances allow for a juvenile record to be expunged. However, a juvenile record may become part of an adult criminal record in other situations.  

Juvenile records are not made available to the public. They may only be viewed or copied by the juvenile and the juvenile’s attorney, parent, or guardian, in addition to select law enforcement and government agencies. And the good news is that juvenile offenses committed more than five years ago cannot be added to a Criminal Punishment Code score sheet in Florida if reoffending as an adult. There is a caveat: if later charged with a felony, an expunged charge may be used as a prior offense. 

Having a juvenile record expunged allows for expanded employment opportunities. This means one can legally deny an arrest on employment applications. But this may still need to be acknowledged when applying for particular jobs, admission to the Florida Bar, obtaining a concealed weapons permit, and other specified situations.  

What Records Are Destroyed at Age 21?  

Juvenile delinquency records are typically destroyed at age 21. However, there are some exceptions:  

  1. The juvenile has been classified as a serious or habitual juvenile offender  
  1. The juvenile has gone to a juvenile prison or correctional facility  
  1. The juvenile charge is a sex offense that was committed at age 14 or older  
  1. The juvenile continues to be charged with certain crimes after turning 18 (detailed below) 

What Records Are Destroyed at Age 26? 

If a juvenile went to a correctional facility or at any time was designated a serious or habitual juvenile offender, the juvenile record will be destroyed at age 26. But the offender will need to avoid any forcible felony charges as an adult. No action needs to be taken for a record to be expunged after turning 26.  

Petitioning for Early Juvenile Record Expungement Between Ages 18 and 21 

While juvenile records are usually destroyed at age 21, you can have your record expunged before that. One may qualify if:  

  1. They are between the ages 18 and 21, and  
  1. They have not been charged with or found guilty of a crime in five years 

Even if an application is not approved, the record can still be expunged automatically at age 21. If the application is approved, you can deny any arrests on job applications. The expungement process is like that of an adult criminal record. 

Keep Reading> Expungements and Sealings in Florida  

The Exception to Record Expungement  

A forcible felony charge before a juvenile record is destroyed could cause that record to merge with an adult criminal record. If convicted of a forcible felony in adult court while under age 18, this merging will still occur and will not be expunged. And if over age 18, a mere forcible felony charge will cause juvenile history to become part of an offender’s adult criminal record.  

What Happens if a Juvenile Record is Never Expunged? 

If an offender continues to be charged with crimes, they may never qualify for an automatic expungement at age 21 or age 26. This means prior juvenile records will be visible to law enforcement. But there is a five-year limit on juvenile charges that can be used on an adult Criminal Punishment Code score sheet.  

Learn More> How Florida’s Juvenile Justice System Works  

Speak to Experienced Juvenile Defense Attorneys 

If you or your child has a juvenile delinquency record, Stechschulte Nell can help. Trust only the most knowledgeable defense attorneys in Tampa Bay. Call Stechschulte Nell Attorneys at Law for your free case review at 813-489-4595. 

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