Getting convicted of a crime as a juvenile can have major consequences on one’s life, affecting one’s ability to pursue certain opportunities, get jobs or internships, enroll in college in some cases, and more. And, unfortunately, being charged with a crime such as drug possession as a youth is something that can haunt a person and impact their life well into their adult years. If you were charged with drug possession as a minor, here’s what you should know about getting your drug possession record sealed or expunged. If you have more questions, please reach out to our experienced Indiana criminal defense lawyers at the law office of Thomas Law for the assistance and support you need.
Unfortunately, any criminal record that you acquired as a minor does not go away when you turn 18; instead, you must ask the court to seal or expunge your record. When a record is sealed in Indiana, this means that the record is still kept by the court, but is not accessible to the public. Expungement, on the other hand, means that your record will be completely destroyed – it will be as if the crime never happened, according to the court record.
For adults who have a criminal record that was incurred as an adult, then only certain types of crimes and certain actions–such as arrest rather than conviction–can be expunged. For juveniles, however, all juvenile records can be destroyed if allowed by a judge. This means that a drug possession record that you got as a minor can be destroyed, including cases where you were sent to the Department of Corrections or were put on probation. In order to request that your records are expunged, you will need to fill out and submit the correct form. While there is no fee that you have to pay for requesting the expungement of a juvenile record, the judge may request that you appear before the court before you are granted the expungement.
Preparing for an Expungement Request
If you are requesting to have a juvenile record expunged, you should be prepared to come to court and make your case before the judge. A judge will want to see that you are doing well and that you are no longer involved in any criminal activity before the expungement is granted. As such, you should be prepared with evidence that supports your case and tells a story about your successes. Such evidence might include, but is not limited to:
● Report cards and class schedules;
● Your diploma;
● Paystub or other proof that you have a job;
● Witness statements, such as testimony from your employer, a teacher or guidance counselor, or friends or relatives;
● Documentation of payments made towards rent and other bills;
● Acceptance letters to college or other programs; and
● Any other evidence that paints a picture of how your life is going and tells a story about you being responsible.
While you can request an expungement of your juvenile drug possession record, whether or not the judge will actually grant your expungement request is based on numerous factors. Again, a judge wants to see that you are doing well and are not involved in criminal activity, but are instead living a responsible life. Factors that may influence whether or not your request for expungement is granted include:
● The details of your juvenile case, including what drugs were involved in your case, how much of that drug, whether or not you have any additional juvenile charges, etc.
● The outcome of those cases – i.e. whether or not you were sent to the Department of Corrections, put on probation, etc.;
● Whether or not you’ve ever been charged for a crime as an adult;
● The current state of affairs in your life; and
● Why you want your juvenile drug possession record to be expunged.
What Happens If My Request for Expungement Is Denied?
While a judge may grant the expungement, it’s also very possible that your expungement will be denied. This is especially true if the judge doesn’t believe you’ve made enough progress since you faced the juvenile charges, or if you haven’t demonstrated that you are able to support yourself and live a responsible life as a contributing citizen. While you certainly don’t want to see your request for expungement denied, the good news is that if your request is denied, you can reapply. There is no minimum amount of time that has to pass from one application period to the other, nor is there any limit on how many times you may request expungement.
When you’re seeking expungement of a juvenile record for drug possession (or anything else) in Indiana, you do not have to be represented by an attorney; opting for legal representation is a personal choice. While there is no legal requirement to hire an attorney, however, doing so may have a positive outcome on your case. An attorney will not only know what judges are looking for in general in an expungement application, but may also be familiar with the specific judge assigned to your case and what that judge likes to see when granting expungements.
Further, an attorney can advise you as you put together your application, help you to gather evidence to support your case, and provide you with information about whether or not a judge is likely to grant the expungement. If your original application is denied, an attorney can help you to prepare to file again.
If you are someone who faced juvenile charges for drug possession and you are wondering what your options are for having your record sealed or expunged, our criminal defense and expungement lawyers at the office of Thomas Law can help. Please reach our lawyers by phone or online to schedule a consultation and get the legal support you need. We know how important an expungement is for your future, and we want to help.
Attorney Jared Michel Thomas has been representing those who have been charged with drug crimes in Evansville and the surrounding areas for the past 10 years. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime and need aggressive, experienced representation, contact us today to schedule a FREE initial consultation at 812-492-1900.