A Juvenile sex conviction has short-term consequences including confinement, registration as a sex offender, and court ordered sexual deviancy treatment.
A mere charge or allegation can negatively impact a person's ability to seek gainful
o Financial aid
o Educational Benefits
o Personal Relationships
A Juvenile sex charge also has other unforeseen and long-lasting consequences that create a psychological barrier straining relationships with family, friends, and significant others. Many young Juvenile offenders in the past were trapped, unable to vacate or seal their records, and forced to live with the conviction for the rest of their lives. Should we brand eleven-year-old offenders for the rest of their life? Is it too early to give up?
Recent Changes in the Law Allows Some Juveniles the Right to Petition the Court to Vacate and Seal the Sex Conviction
The Washington State Legislature believes it is too early to give up on some Juvenile Sex offenders. The Legislature agreed that we have an obligation to rehabilitate young sexual assault offenders and passed a law allowing them the ability to vacate and seal their records. It was decided as a matter of public policy that the toll on society for permanently branding a Juvenile at such an early age was too great. They considered research that children's brains do not fully develop until their twenties and the impact it has on decision making abilities. This is by no means an excuse for committing a crime but it was a factor the Legislature considered before enacting the Juvenile Vacate law.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO VACATE YOUR RECORD
It is important to understand not all offenders are eligible to seal their records under this law. For those that are eligible, it will not be an easy and quick process. A person must prove to the Court that they have been rehabilitated and no longer pose a risk to society. The Court will consider numerous factors including:
o Nature of the offense
o Criminal behavior before and after the offense
o Noncriminal behavior before and after the offense
o Compliance with supervision
o Length of time since the offense
o Participation in treatment
o Input from the victim, law enforcement, and probation
o Stability in employment and housing
Normally, we encourage our clients to seek a current risk assessment by a professional State certified therapist and voluntarily participate in a polygraph examination. You must also provide proof that you successfully completed treatment, live in a stable environment, and provide evidence that you are not going to re-offend.
Consider Hiring An Attorney
Vacating and sealing a conviction is complicated and should be handled by a skilled attorney. An attorney will ensure the Petition is filed with all of the necessary documents and evidence and present it in Court. A Judge and Prosecutor will hear the evidence to determine if a person is an appropriate candidate to lift the sex offender registration requirement and to have his or her record vacated and sealed. If granted, the charge will be dismissed and the file will be sealed. A person will officially be able to state on employment applications and elsewhere that he or she has never been convicted of the offense. It may not be the answer for everyone, but the Legislature has determined some offenders deserve a second chance. Everybody makes mistakes - but should the mistakes you made as a child live with you for the rest of your life?