Juvenile Courts Seek To Rehabilitate, Not Punish
In Maricopa County juvenile court systems, judges do a very good job at focusing on rehabilitation. If a juvenile has a drug problem, the court will usually focus on doing everything they can to get the juvenile treatment for the drug problem. In case of offenses that involve alcohol, the court system will work very hard to get your child alcohol abuse treatment. For offenses such as truancy where the juvenile is not attending school, the court will do what they can to ensure the juvenile shows up to school. All in all, the courts really focuses on helping the juvenile.
This is different than what is typically found in the adult court process, where it is more focused on penalizing a person with such things as jail time and/or very high fines.
Access To Juvenile Criminal Records
The convictions file will not be reported to most criminal justice systems nor are they accessible through the Internet or public records; they are sealed. A person is not able to do a public records request and access the files. In order to access the information, theey will need to get a court order.
Are Records Accessible When the Juvenile Becomes An Adult?
A juvenile criminal history is not able to be used as prior criminal history for sentencing of an adult conviction. But it can be used as a sentencing-aggravating factor to a judge. A judge can consider the juvenile criminal history when passing sentence.
What a court is not able to do is to consider the juvenile conviction as a technical prior felony conviction. There is a difference in how the court can use it and that is why it is further important to keep a conviction within the juvenile system if possible.
Anything that happens in juvenile court stays into that juvenile system, which nobody has access to. Once you become 18, and are convicted within the adult court system, the records will be available through a public records request.
Turning 18-Years Old During A Juvenile Case
If you’re in the juvenile system and you’re getting close to turning 18, you need to make a decision with your lawyer as soon as possible because you either need to fight the case and go to trial as soon as possible. You can try to have the resolution occur in the juvenile court system.
Or, if you want to take a plea agreement, you need to do that as soon as possible in the juvenile court system. If you turn 18 while you’re in the juvenile court system the court will lose jurisdiction over you and the case can be turned over to the adult system. If that happens, you’ll lose the benefit of being in the juvenile court system.