Juvenile Drug Record – Can It Be Used in an Adult Drug Proceeding?
In most states, juvenile records are sealed and available only to police or the courts in limited circumstances. Most states also have procedures available that allow people who have committed juvenile offenses to have their juvenile records expunged in certain circumstances. However, if records have not been expunged, it may be possible for a court to use those juvenile records in an adult proceeding if certain requirements are met.
Time Between Charges
One of the primary factors that a court must consider when deciding whether to use a juvenile drug record in an adult drug offense proceeding is the length of time between the prior juvenile offense and the current adult charges. If the juvenile offense only occurred a couple of years prior, it can indicate to the court that the person has an ongoing substance abuse issue or is involved in drug distribution. However, if the juvenile offense happened many years ago, it may simply indicate that the person has suffered a relapse.
Age at the Time of Juvenile Offense
Some states will also consider the age of the juvenile at the time of the offense. If a juvenile is 16 or 17 years old at the time of the offense, courts may be willing to connect those offenses to a subsequent adult drug offense. Depending on the state, that juvenile offense may result in an increase in the severity of the punishment for later adult convictions.
Expungement and Unsealing of Juvenile Records
Most states offer juvenile offenders the opportunity to expunge juvenile records. A person may have a limited period in which to seek expungement for a juvenile offense, and state law may preclude certain serious offenses from being expunged. However, depending on the state, even when a juvenile record is “expunged,” it may not be entirely unavailable, and may still be accessible by the courts, law enforcement agencies, or certain state agencies.
Although juvenile records are usually sealed from public view for most purposes, these records can be unsealed by the court if the person commits a similar offense as an adult. Even when a juvenile offense is expunged from a person’s record, some states allow courts to consider that expunged offense when sentencing a person for a similar offense committed as an adult. Courts may be more likely to unseal a juvenile record and use it to increase the sentence for a conviction for an offense committed as an adult if a person demonstrates a lack of remorse or a lack of insight into his or her criminal behavior.
The requirements for seeking expungement of juvenile records vary from state to state. In some states, a person seeking expungement of juvenile records must still be a juvenile when filing his or her request. Other states require a certain period of time to elapse before seeking expungement of an offense. Many states will exclude certain serious offenses, usually violent crimes like assault, rape, or murder, from eligibility for expungement.
It is usually advisable to have legal assistance to help you when facing adult drug charges; an attorney can help you keep juvenile drug records sealed or not used by the court in your case.
Contact an Experienced Cherry Hill Drug Defense Attorney About Your Drug Crime Charges in New Jersey
Have you been charged with a drug-related offense in New Jersey? A drug charge conviction can carry with it heavy fines, jail time, and driver’s license suspension! That is why it is imperative that you speak with a qualified drug defense lawyer about your case. Gelman Law, LLC represents clients charged with use, possession, production, distribution, and related drug offenses in Cherry Hill, Camden County, Burlington County, Gloucester County, and throughout New Jersey. Call (856) 861-4236 or fill out our confidential online contact form to schedule a consultation about your case. We have an office located at 1940 W. Rte. 70, #4, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.