Many people believe that juvenile criminal convictions don't matter, that they are sealed from the public, or that juvenile court convictions magically disappear after the juvenile becomes an adult. That is not the case in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
In Virginia, any juvenile felony conviction will remain on a person's criminal record for the rest of their life. Juvenile misdemeanor convictions are eventually dropped from criminal records, but not until a juvenile turns 19 years old or five years after the offense is committed, whichever is later. Traffic offenses committed as a juvenile can remain on a persons Department of Motor Vehicles record until the age of 29.
Juveniles can also face serious punishment for criminal acts. If convicted of a crime, Judges can order a juvenile into juvenile probation programs, various residential treatment facilities, and can sentence a juvenile to serve time in a local juvenile detention center for up to 30 days. If a juvenile is convicted of a felony or has accrued multiple misdemeanor convictions, the Judge may also commit the juvenile to the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice for up to three years. In addition, Juveniles charged with serious felony offenses may be tried as an adult, where they may risk a lengthy prison sentences in the adult prison system.
A Juvenile criminal conviction can have many other adverse impacts on a young man or woman:
Virginia law requires:
- Notice that a juvenile has been charged with certain crimes must be immediately provided to the superintendent of the school in which the student is enrolled, or should be enrolled.
- Information of the fact that a juvenile has been charged with an offense, even if the offense is later dismissed, is required on many college applications.
- A juvenile charged with certain violent offenses, will be certified for trial as an adult if he or she is 14 years of age or older, and probable cause that he or she committed the crime is established.
- Upon conviction for a felony, every juvenile must be fingerprinted, and a record of the conviction be forwarded to the Central Criminal Records Exchange, which result in a permanent adult record.
- If the felony was committed by a juvenile who was 14 or older, he or she is permanently prohibited from possessing a firearm, and is subject to prosecution for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
- Even a conviction or a deferred finding on a misdemeanor can result in a license suspension for a juvenile. Certain offenses, such as possession of alcohol, possession of marijuana, or truancy, require that a juvenile's license, or opportunity to obtain a license, be suspended.
- If a juvenile is later charged and convicted as an adult, many juvenile convictions, or merely the fact that he or she has a juvenile record, can elevate the potential sentencing range on the adult charge
It is vitally important, if your child is charged with a criminal offense, to secure a competent criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable about the special problems involved with juvenile procedures. An expert attorney's knowledge of the unique procedures that pertain to juvenile court can prevent a young person's mistake from staying with them for a lifetime. The criminal defense lawyers at The Magee Law Firm, PLLC have had extensive experience in the area of Juvenile Justice. We have represented hundreds of juvenile clients in cases ranging from runaways to violent felonies, and can guide your child through the intricacies of the juvenile court system, from the initial intake hearing process to the final disposition of a case. Our lawyers will make every attempt to assure that what happens before your child's 18th birthday stays sealed, once he or she reaches adulthood.