When children become teenagers and young adults, making mistakes and rebellion become major concerns. Even children who are usually responsible and respectful can go through phases where they let the worst elements at school influence their behavior or push back against all rules just because they can.
Unfortunately, some teenagers take things too far and get into trouble. Maybe they got caught drinking with their friends or tried to buy drugs from someone who turned out to have connections to law enforcement. Maybe they tried shoplifting unsuccessfully or got into a fistfight and now face assault charges.
How will a teenage criminal conviction affect your child’s future?
Juvenile justice could still affect schooling and daily life
When a young adult who is not yet a teenager finds themselves accused of a crime, they will usually go through the juvenile justice system. In cases of felony offenses and teens over the age of 14, however, Pennsylvania could still potentially try them as an adult.
In most cases, a teen will face charges as a juvenile, meaning there is more of a focus on rehabilitation than there is with older offenders. Still, your teen might have to go to residential facilities, complete treatment to help them avoid future mistakes or perform community service.
The requirements set by the court after a guilty plea or conviction could affect your child’s schooling now, as well as possibly their opportunities in the future. A criminal record could affect everything from college enrollment to future earning potential for your teenager.
A youthful criminal record can limit someone’s options for years
Criminal background checks are now just a standard part of the hiring process. Even gas station clerks and dishwashers may be subject to background checks. It has never been harder for someone who makes a youthful mistake to move on with their lives.
Under Pennsylvania law, it is possible to seal juvenile records, but you have to follow the right process to do so. There are also certain offenses that are not eligible for sealing even if the offender is a juvenile.
Higher education opportunities and even housing can be hard to obtain when someone has a criminal record. Helping your teenager plan to defend themselves and knowing what steps to take after court, such as requesting that the state seal their records, can go a long way toward limiting the lifetime impact of a teenage mistake that leads to juvenile charges.