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Beyond 18: The effects of Juvenile Adjudications into Adulthood


Juveniles who commit offenses that would be against the criminal code go through an adjudication process where they may be adjudicated delinquent. Many criminal defendants make the mistake of believing that anything they were adjudicated delinquent of before the age of 18 can’t come back to bite them once they’re of age. This is simply not the case. Federal law does have rules safeguarding the disclosure of juvenile records, but those records may be released for several reasons. Title 18 U.S.C.A. § 5038 permits these records to be available upon request for inquiries from another court of law, inquiries from an agency preparing a presentence report, from law enforcement in the investigation of the crime, from the directors of a treatment agency the juvenile has been remanded to, for inquiries from victims of the juvenile, and for inquiries from agencies considering the person for a position directly affecting national security.

This means you may find yourself applying for jobs in the military or government where clearances are required and be surprised to find that those juvenile adjudications will come back into play. If you lied about them thinking they would never know, you may find yourself in a whole heap of trouble. Also, some professions such as lawyers and doctors require that the applicant disclose their complete criminal history when applying of their own volition, with the potential of being blocked from obtaining licensure in the profession if they are caught lying.

Also, he time when juvenile adjudications really come back to bite you is when you are charged with a new criminal offense. During your trial, Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence allow for the admissibility of juvenile adjudications whenever an adult conviction for the same offense would be admissible to impeach. So you may be shocked when you are testifying at your own trial that they start bringing up things that happened when you were only 14 years old!

Also, if you are convicted, juvenile adjudications can and will be counted towards your prior record store for each offense that occurred after the age of fourteen. However, those adjudications are only included if they were a felony or certain misdemeanors listed in 303.7(a)(4). If someone was a juvenile who can go the period of time from the age of 18 to the age of 28 crime free, those prior offenses may lapse and be excluded from the prior record score. However, even if lapsed adjudications are not counted in the prior record score, they may still be considered in fashioning the sentence of offenders, depending on the severity of the offense.

If you have a child that is facing a juvenile adjudication or has been adjudicated delinquent, or if you’re an adult with an adjudication history as a juvenile, you need a professional to help you move into the future free of the bonds of the past. Don’t let screw-ups as a juvenile affect your livelihood and career going forward. Frank Walker is a Nationwide Top 100 Criminal Defense attorney with experience handling sensitive legal issues such as juvenile adjudications. He has the experience, knowledge, and understanding to handle juvenile issues in a professional manner with an eye towards the future. Call today at (412) 212-3878.