“Some juvenile records are open to the public. Specifically, those who are over 14 and adjudicated delinquent of a felony have a public juvenile record. Moreover, once any portion of the juvenile record becomes public, then the entire record is public,” she said.

“That includes any non-felony portions of the record. Also, 12- and 13-year-olds who have been adjudicated of certain very serious felony offenses have a public juvenile record.”

And though applicants are not always required to acknowledge juvenile records on employment applications, Sizemore-Thompson said that is not the case for public housing applications. They must be acknowledged and can lead to disqualification. So the grant is specifically tailored to fit a real need.

“This grant will help young people who have paid their debt to society to get back on the right track, to find stable housing and secure sustainable employment,” added Roberts.

Unlike adult expungement proceedings, which require a ruling from the state pardon board, those seeking expungement of juvenile records file motions and have hearings before the Court of Common pleas in the county from which their adjudication arises.

And unlike the adult process, which can take years to resolve, juvenile record expungement is much faster.

“The law requires 30-day notice to the Commonwealth. So, once the motion is filed it generally takes about a month to get a hearing before a judge,” said Sizemore-Thompson. “Once the order is signed—which is usually on the same day as the hearing—the expungement takes legal effect. But, there is usually a period of time before all of the relevant agencies and institutions update their computers to purge the records.”

In addition to providing no-cost juvenile expungement representation, the Juvenile Defender Clinic offers holistic representation to its clients in order to address as many needs (i.e. social work, mental health) as possible. Sizemore-Thompson said she hopes to begin the HACP site visits this month.

 

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